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Iraq: Providing help up to the limits of what is feasible in political and legal terms Iraq

18.08.2014 - Article

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier regards the ISIS terror group as “an existential threat”. Should the threat level remain, Steinmeier does not exclude the possibility of supplying arms.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier regards the ISIS terror group as “an existential threat” to Iraq and the entire Middle East region. In view of the dramatic situation, he advocates providing help “up to the limits of what is feasible in political and legal terms”. Should the threat level remain, Steinmeier does not exclude the possibility of supplying arms. The Federal Foreign Office recently increased its financial aid for the refugees in northern Iraq to a total of 4.4 million euros.

Refugees near Kalak in Iraq
Refugees near Kalak in Iraq© picture-alliance/ ZumaPress

The threat level is developing dramatically in northern Iraq. ISIS fighters are continuing to advance in the region. Steinmeier describes the murder, systematic expulsion and forced conversion of Christians, Yazidi and members of other religious communities as a “new dimension of terror” (8 August). Many people have fled their homes and sought shelter in remote regions such as the Sinjar Mountains.

ISIS – an existential threat to the entire region

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier© photothek.net

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (13 August), Foreign Minister Steinmeier described the ISIS terror group as an “ existential threat ”, not only to Iraq, but also to the entire Middle East. He said the danger posed by the pillaging Islamist terrorists should also not be underestimated in Europe. The German Government is liaising closely with its European and international partner countries on this issue.

In an interview with Heute Journal on ZDF (13 August), Steinmeier also appealed to the international community “ not to leave northern Iraq and the Kurdish leadership completely alone and watch the ongoing carnage of people there ”. He said this also means he “ could not currently exclude the possibility that we may have to supply arms if the threat remains ”.

Help for people on the ground

State Secretary Steinlein (right) in discussion
State Secretary Steinlein (right) in discussion© AA

“At the same time”, he pointed out, “it is important that people fleeing from ISIS in northern Iraq receive help quickly.” The Foreign Minister announced additional aid on 10 August, thus bringing the emergency aid provided by the Federal Foreign Office to a total of 4.4 million euros. The funds are primarily being used to provide medical care and access to drinking water, as well as to restore the livelihoods of the internally displaced people.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development also announced further aid of 20 million euros for the people in northern Iraq on 13 August. This support will be provided to aid organisations that are already working on the ground.

In an effort to obtain a detailed picture of the situation on the ground and to explore additional aid measures by Germany, the Federal Foreign Office is also in close contact with representatives of the Yazidi community, as well as with German, international and church aid organisations.

Iraq needs understanding between the political forces

Demonstration in Baghdad
Demonstration in Baghdad© dpa/picture alliance

Political stability is crucial for a long-term resolution of the crisis in Iraq. Foreign Minister Steinmeier described Haidar al–Abadi’s recent mandate to govern as “a major step forward in the political process ” (11 August).

However, he underlined that “ the country urgently needs a functioning government that is accepted by all groups within the population if it is to put a stop to the brutal activities of the ISIS terrorists and dry up their political support. ”

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