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German Politicians Split Over Use of Army in Domestic Anti-Terror Ops

© AFP 2021 / CHRISTOF STACHEMountain infantry soldiers, pictured after an exercise of the mountain infantry brigade 23 of the German Bundeswehr at an exercise area near the Bavarian village Bad Reichenhall, southern Germany, on March 23, 2016
Mountain infantry soldiers, pictured after an exercise of the mountain infantry brigade 23 of the German Bundeswehr at an exercise area near the Bavarian village Bad Reichenhall, southern Germany, on March 23, 2016 - Sputnik International
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent statement in which she said, "It is time to carry out exercises in the event of major terrorist attacks," came as no surprise to journalists worldwide. The new kind of military training is expected to involve the police and German Armed forces, a move that caused vivid debate across the country.

The idea of using of Germany's Armed Forces in the country has long been very controversial, Deutsche Welle wrote.

"Residents of many other countries, who got used to seeing soldiers and military vehicles on the streets of their cities might perceive the German discussion on this topic as strange and out of place. But among many in Germany — with its Nazi past and the role of the Wehrmacht under Hitler's regime — the idea of using the army in the country causes severe allergy," the media source wrote.

The newly proposed military training has divided the German political landscape. For instance, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier strongly opposes the step and recalls that the authors of the German constitution have embedded a corresponding paragraph (prohibiting the use of the armed forces within the country) not without reason.

In an interview with German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse, he praised the professionalism of the police during the events of last week and said that "there were no gaps that could or should have been filled by the Bundeswehr." The idea of using the army in the country is also being negatively assessed by the Left Party and "Union 90" / "Green".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the opening session of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 15, 2016. - Sputnik International
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At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other CDU members look at the situation differently. For instance, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen proposed to amend the German constitution in order to fully legalize military involvement during anti-terror operations. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was actively involved in the preparation of the legislation, strongly opposed such amendments and managed to defend its position.

It is worth mentioning that the current version of the German constitution still allows the use the military within the country in some exceptional cases. According to Article 35, local authorities can ask for the help of the army "to assist in the event of a disaster or a particularly severe accident," which had repeatedly happened during floods when soldiers were involved in building dams and evacuating residents.

Another article of the constitution (87-a) allows the use of the army to assist the police "in protecting civilian property and combating organized and located militant armed groups" when it is necessary "to reflect the danger that threatens the existence or the free democratic basic order" in the country.

In 2012, the German Constitutional Court ruled that the terrorist attack, in principle, can be classified as "a particularly severe accident" which may potentially involve the army, but did not specify what the scale of the attack should be to classify it as such.

The debate over the use of armed forces within the country intensified following a series of attacks that took place in Germany over the last two weeks.

German police (File) - Sputnik International
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Last Sunday, an asylum-seeker from Syria blew himself up near an open-air music festival in Ansbach, with Daesh claiming responsibility. It was later alleged that his asylum application had been previously denied.

The same day, another Syrian refugee killed a female colleague with a machete in the city of Reutlingen.

On July 22, 9 people were killed in Munich during mall shooting carried out by a German of Iranian origin. On the same day, an axe attack was carried out by an Afghan refugee, which injured five people.

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