In a speech to the German Bundestag on 15 January, Foreign Minister Steinmeier urged parliament to support the planned Bundeswehr training mission in Iraq. The mission will comprise 100 Bundeswehr soldiers, who will train and advise the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters for combat against ISIS.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier started his speech with a review of recent developments. Just four months ago, he said, the German Bundestag had held a debate on Germany’s responsibility in the fight against ISIS. Back then, it seemed that it was just a matter of time before all of Iraq would fall into the hands of the ISIS terror group.
The fact that this has not occurred, and that ISIS’ advance in northern Iraq has been halted, is primarily thanks to the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Steinmeier said.
However, I am glad that we in Germany were also able to play a role in this achievement. I am glad that we took on responsibility, in full awareness of the risks and in the midst of uncertainties.
Supporting the fight against ISIS
However, “nothing has been done yet” as regards humanitarian, political or military issues. The Foreign Minister said it was vital for the people in the region that the territories currently held be protected. “Humanitarian aid will only reach those in need if we ensure that the parts of northern Iraq not held by ISIS remain safe and peaceful,“ he said.
“Both Baghdad and Erbil have asked for support in order to achieve this. The fighting of the past months has shown clearly that not only is there a lack of equipment, but also that training is needed. I strongly urge that we do not refuse to give the Iraqis the training support they have requested of us”, Steinmeier said.
Training and advice
At the same time, he noted that the mission is not a combat operation. “The mission only involves needs‑based training and advice, ranging from treatment of the most severely wounded to mine clearance and dealing with improvised explosive devices,“ the Foreign Minister said.
Steinmeier pointed out that the German Government had consciously decided to table a motion on a Bundestag mandate for the training mission. “Both Baghdad and Erbil have expressly asked for support. In addition, the United Nations Security Council has classified ISIS as a threat to global peace and has called on the international community to support Iraq in the fight against ISIS. We are meeting this request as far as legally possible.”