German Navy Escorted Warships Headed for Iraq.

The German government has admitted being indirectly involved in the Iraq war by having its navy escort American and British warships. On Friday, Germany's parliament voted to continue its navy presence in the region.

On numerous occasions, as the war in Iraq got underway, the German navy provided escort protection for American and British warships, German news agency DPA reported.

German involvement in the Iraq war remains a thorny issue. While the German government officially opposed the US-led invasion, the German military appears to have found other ways to support the Iraq war effort. Besides escorting warships, German agents allegedly provided intelligence information as the war got underway.

Escort service

Germany's parliament voted Friday to continue its military support of "Operation Enduring Freedom," as the US military has named its fight against terror.

Currently, several hundred German soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan and on ships near the Horn of Africa. The maximum number of troops was dropped from 2,800 to 1,800. Germany only has a few hundred soldiers deployed, far fewer than either of the maximums.

The German defense ministry conceded that on more than two dozen occasions the German navy escorted British and US warships and other military vessels through the straight between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The activity started even before the war officially started on March 20, 2003. It continued during the first weeks after the war began. After US President George W. Bush officially declared the end of the Iraq war in April, 2003, data shows the navy continued escorting military ships, DPA said.

The stated mission of the German navy during Operation Enduring Freedom was to examine suspicious ships at the Horn of Africa in order to prevent possible weapons shipments. Approximately 300 soldiers are deployed on this mission.

Overstepping the mandate?

Escorting warships through the area was not covered by the German parliament's mandate, said Paul Schäfer of the Left Party.

"With these new revelations as a backdrop, the government must immediately terminate the Bundeswehr mission at the Horn of Africa," Schäfer said.

Any other action would further support the occupying forces in Iraq and the violence and chaos there, Shäfer said. The Left Party and the Greens voted against Friday's decision to prolong the German military's involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The German navy has been told to monitor the trade and transport of goods which could be used to support terrorism. They are attempting to prevent drug running and arms shipments in the area.

[Source: Deutsche Welle, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Deu, 11nov06]

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War in Iraq
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