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Africon goes

Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal also affects Africom’s notorious command center in Stuttgart. But while politicians and business regret the withdrawal, the fact that drone killings are being coordinated in Stuttgart is being suppressed.

For some time now, US President and Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump has been swearing in to bring thousands of troops home. Now it seems to be the time. The withdrawal affects not only countries such as Afghanistan, but also Germany. According to Trump’s “strategic plans,” 12,000 U.S. soldiers are expected to leave the country. Of the soldiers withdrawn, some 6,400 are to be returned to the UNITED States and 5,400 transferred to other European countries. According to Defence Minister Mark Esper, the partial withdrawal should be implemented “as soon as possible”. The procedure is also portrayed by Washington as a kind of punishment, as Germany is said to have failed sufficiently to meet its NATO obligations. “We don’t want to be the suckers anymore,” Trump said during a white house press conference last Wednesday.

The plans affect Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate and, of course, Baden-Württemberg. The reactions from politics and business could not have been more predictable. Markus Söder regretted the “conscious decision against Germany” and spoke of a strain on the german-American relationship. Stuttgart Mayor Fritz Kuhn criticized Trump’s approach. “With its decision, the US administration under President Trump is announcing the close cooperation that has grown over decades in a punitive action against an ally and without consensus in the US Congress,” Kuhns said.

Meanwhile, others are worried about the economic consequences. “The troops stationed are consumers, they invest in goods and use services in the Stuttgart region,” said Johannes Schmalzl, chief executive of the Stuttgart Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It is now clear that the two command centres Eucom and Africom will be relocated. But while the former is to move from Stuttgart-Vaihingen to Mons, Belgium, Africom’s new location remains unknown. This should not be surprising, given that at that time, in other words, before 2008, many European states showed no interest in stationing, while Germany willingly offered itself.

All the more worrying is the fact that, in the context of the withdrawal of troops, there is almost exclusively talk of economic consequences and transatlantic relations. For, it seems, many people do not seem to know what is actually going on in these military bases – or, worse, they ignore these circumstances and thereby practically become accomplices.

Accomplices in the Shadow War

Correctly read. The word ‘perpetrator’ is appropriate. This becomes clear, for example, when, for once, one does not focus on the consequences for the Countryside, but on those scenes that no one is talking about these days. An example of this is the city of Jilib in Somalia. There were another drone strikes about two weeks ago that killed at least three children.

According to local media reports, the city is controlled by the militant Al-Shabab militia. The goal, however, was a neighborhood inhabited mainly by civilians. Drone strikes in Somalia have increased massively in recent months and years. Amnesty International reports 32 civilians have been killed or injured in the past three years. The organization Airwars, which has been monitoring the U.S. shadow war in Somalia since last February, says that between 72 and 145 civilians have been killed by U.S. operations over the past thirteen years. In all cases, minimum numbers are to be assumed. Similar to other countries, such as Afghanistan or Pakistan, most of the affected regions are located and difficult to reach. Western journalists and observers are almost never present.

Africom is responsible for all this terror. Every drone attack in Somalia is planned and coordinated in Stuttgart. According to Africom, only five civilians have been killed since operations began in 2007. All other victims are considered “terrorists” as usual. Even after last week’s attack, there was only talk of alleged terrorists killed and wounded.

Investigations on the ground never took place, which has already been criticised several times. On top of that, Africom doesn’t like journalists. This became clear, for example, in the case of US reporter Nick Turse, who has been dealing with the US military in Africa for years. At some point, he received a clear rejection from Africom, because he was not regarded as a proper, i.e. system-compliant journalist.

All these facts are being ignored in Germany these days. Instead, US soldiers are seen primarily as good consumers. Or you can consciously press on the tear gland and speak of long-standing friendships, which are now being destroyed. This goes beyond any cynicism, because the facts are clear: Germany is an accomplice in the secret war of the United States. Somali civilians are executed at the push of a button in shifts before those responsible indulge in their evening farm brew and boost the local economy thanks to their American appetite. This is a crime. The fact that “the good ones” are the perpetrators does not change this long-known circumstance. From Berlin to Stuttgart, those responsible have long shied from this reality. They have ousted and ignored her, but now they have been caught up by her in a slightly different way. That is a good thing, and that Africom is leaving Stuttgart, as well.