The US government has called on Germany to participate in possible military attacks in Syria in recent weeks. During high-level talks in the Chancellor's office and in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Defense, Ambassadors of President Donald Trump suggested to the federal government that the Bundeswehr would participate in US military retaliation in the event of re-use of poison gas by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The US also asked for the same reason in other European capitals. In Berlin it was said that the Americans had made it clear that in the coming weeks they would expect more of Assad's poison gas around the last rebel stronghold Idlib. In this case, retaliatory attacks against Assad's military facilities are being planned. President Trump ordered similar attacks in April, when only France and Britain participated in the targeted blows.
On Monday, the "Bild" newspaper reported on the so far secret talks, which were led in part by the American ambassador and the close Trump confidant Richard Grenell. The newspaper wrote in detail that the Ministry of Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen already plans possible Bundeswehr contributions. The heading "Government Plans Tornado Assault Against Assad" also contains one of the dull gray German jet fighters.
At least the conversations were confirmed by the initiates. Accordingly, Grenell and other Ambassadors from Washington have been traveling with such requirements in Berlin for several weeks. The ambassador was pretty active. "It was made clear to us that the US would publicly expose us if we did not participate," said a senior official. In April, the government said that the US had not asked for participation.
Many restrictions on participation
But Grenell did not get the promise. Although his German interlocutors indicated that German participation was fundamentally conceivable. But then there were a lot of restrictions. On the one hand, there must be clear evidence for the Bundeswehr's commitment that Assad has actually used poison gas. In addition, the guest in the US, Parliament, or at least a hastily convened round of fractional leaders, should agree to such a mission.
For the Americans, that was probably a no. Because storage of evidence, for example by the chemical weapons inspectors of the OPCW, takes – if the experts even come to the combat room. A mandate from the Bundestag would take weeks to go, a quick retaliation strike that would be ruled out in April. As a result, some in the government district believe that Grenell, out of frustration over German hesitation, went through the troublesome Causa himself to the "image".
Whether the US has shown a favor remains open. In April, the federal government was even pretty annoyed that they had not even been asked. Although military missions are generally considered difficult to sell. Berlin is reluctant to distinguish itself from world politics – especially because the whole government is only too happy to talk about it, they want to take more responsibility worldwide.
As a result, the past few weeks had been much more open than in the spring of 2018. At that time, the army had played the Bundeswehr's involvement in the case.
The US is about the political symbol
The list is quite long. For example, the air force has cruise missiles of the "Taurus" type, identical models had been used by the British in April for retaliatory attacks. Like the Americans and the French, at that time the Royal Air Force did not invade Syrian airspace, which is well protected by modern Russian air defense. As a result, the German participation in missile-powered "Tornado" jets would have been almost without risk for the deployed soldiers.
The cruise missiles are not the only support that Berlin can offer. So also the air tanks for jet fighters were the speech, a hedge of American battleships by German escorts would also be conceivable. That sounds innocent. The US, however, is more concerned with their demands at least more on the political symbolic power. They want to demonstrate with many partners that they do not act alone. After all, they have enough precision weapons in their own camps.
After the "Bild" report, however, a German participation is almost complete. Reflexively, SPD party leader Andrea Nahles has categorically excluded a German mission. Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas was also extremely skeptical. However, quieter tones came from the Union. Several politicians demanded that one should wait for the coming days in Syria and then decide how Germany would behave. After the clear veto against Nahles it will probably not happen again.