German opposition angry over Berlin's Libyan 'war'

19th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

German opposition deputies are up in arms over Germany's military participation in the NATO planning of bombing missions in Libya after the government specifically said it would not take part in the war.

German soldiers "are directly involved in the war" without prior approval by the German parliament, Green Party deputy Hans-Christian Stroebele thundered on ARD public television Friday.

This followed information, given by the government in answer to a parliamentary question, that 11 German officers are involved at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) headquarters in Italy in planning air strikes against forces loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

Germany abstained in March in a UN Security Council vote to create a no-fly zone in Libya to stop pro-government forces from slaughtering civilians.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said at the time Germany would not contribute to the military intervention for fear of killing civilians.

"The fact that it has now been revealed that German soldiers are involved in chosing military targets in Libya shows Westerwelle's boastful statements not to take part in a Libyan intervention to be a farce," Social Democrat member of parliament Gernot Erler said Friday.

Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere has rejected the suggestion that his country's military involvement at NATO headquarter level should have first required parliamentary approval.

Berlin, however, did withdraw its warships in the wake of the UN Security Council vote from a NATO operation in the Mediterranean that was enforcing a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya.

And, in what many saw as a sop to its allies, the German parliament then voted to send up to 300 crew members to operate surveillance planes in Afghanistan to free up NATO resources for the no-fly zone in Libya.

© 2011 AFP

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