The new German defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, has told the Bundestag, the Parliament today, that General W. Schneiderhan, along with a senior official in the Ministry of Defence, Peter Wichert, were resigning with immediate effect following German media reports which claimed that important information regarding civilian casualties had deliberately been withheld from both the German public and state prosecutors.
Their resignations have created a bit of an instant whirlwind in political Berlin with the new opposition Social Democrats calling for a full independent parliamentary inquiry. Others have called for the resignation of Franz Josef Jung, the present labour minister in Merkel’s just newly appointed government. Jung was, embarrassingly, the former defence minister at the time air attacks in Afghanistan.
The actual incident occurred on September 4th this year after the commander of the German base in the northern Kunduz region, called for an airstrike on two hijacked tanker trucks in the northern Kunduz region. After the attack, Mr. Jung, repeatedly denied that any civilians had been killed in the attack.
It now seems almost certain that the Defence Ministry knew from the start that there had been a strong likelihood of civilian casualties. When they were ordered it was known that there would be civilian casualties and after the actual airstrike that there had been civilian casualties While it is still not exactly known how many civilians died in the attack, up to 142 people were killed. German doctors reported at least two young boys amongst the injured.
The parliamentary speaker of the Green Party Mr Jürgen Trittin, said that if it is proven Mr. Jung had lied following the bombing he should quit his present post.
This all comes as bad timing for newly appointed 2nd term chancellor Merkel, who was today hosting the head of Nato the Dane Rasmussen, who in his turn is asking for more Nato involvement in Afghanistan.This at the behest of the American government, the actual owner of Nato, who want an additional 10,000 troops from Nato “allies”.
There is to be a Parliamentary debate soon to deal with extension of the mandate for German troops to fight in Afghanistan. This comes during a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Germans asking about the usefulness of the Nato alliance and most specifically this mission.
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