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6 Dec, 2016 11:11

German govt finally admits hosting key US drone war base, Die Linke MP tells RT

After years of denial, Berlin has acknowledged that the US Air Force is using Ramstein Air Base in Germany to carry out drone attacks in anti-terrorist operations, Die Linke (the Left) MP Andrej Hunko told RT.

They crucial role played by the Ramstein base – the largest American military facility on foreign soil – in controversial US drone killings in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia has been an open secret for years.

The German government had until now insisted it had no information about the operations. However, after being confronted by Die Linke on the issue, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet finally admitted that "planning, monitoring, and evaluation" of drone operations is carried out at the base, according to Hunko.

"We got the information that Ramstein is playing an important role in the drone war I think three years ago, and at least since 2.5 years ago we [have] asked and asked and asked again our government, 'Is Ramstein an important relay station for this drone war?' And the answer always was ‘no,’" Hunko told RT.

He went on to stress that this is the first time the German government has publicly admitted the base’s significance for the drone war – and that the information could have legal consequences.

"This will lead to a new debate we have now in Germany, about the role of Ramstein, about the involvement of the German government, because from our point of view and from the point of view of most experts, the US drone war is against international law and against German law."

Hunko said there is the possibility that lawyers, given the new information, will "put it to the court."

Some of the family members of the civilian victims of US drone strikes believe that the German government is complicit in such killings and could be liable for damages. Several lawsuits are currently in the pipeline.

Separately, the Ramstein base has been targeted by anti-war activists, with German courts dismissing a claim by a local resident in the Kaiserslautern area, where the base is located, that its existence put German citizens’ lives at risk because of a possible violent backlash against its operations.

Die Linke is among the forces in Germany calling "to end this drone war" and to "end the possibility" of the US using Ramstein.

The use of unmanned aircraft piloted remotely halfway across the world to kill suspected terrorists was pioneered by the George W. Bush administration and rapidly escalated under President Barack Obama.

Proponents of the strategy say it allows precise strikes to be delivered at enemy combatants while minimizing collateral damage, all without putting US lives at risk.

Critics say the civilian deaths associated with drone strikes are underestimated by the US and serve only to instill fear among local populations and increase support for radical groups.

Some of the drone attacks are seen as questionable from a legal standpoint – both in terms of the approval of targets by the US president and the use of military force outside of clearly-designated battlefields.