Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Jaafari at the Federal Foreign Office on Monday (21 November). Their talks focused on the liberation of the city of Mosul from the hands of the IS terror group. The regional conflicts in Yemen and Syria were also on the agenda.
Progress in the liberation operation
Mosul is the last large city still held by IS terrorists in Iraq. The operation to liberate the city is making progress. Despite these military achievements, Foreign Minister Steinmeier warned against overestimating the situation: “IS will defend Mosul, its last stronghold in Iraq, with particular vigour.” The terrorists are currently hiding out in the city centre and taking the civilian population hostage.
Conditions for success
The Foreign Ministers’ talks focused on the question of how the liberation can be a long-term success under these difficult conditions. Steinmeier underlined two aspects of particular importance. Firstly, consensus and unity are needed in Iraq, as a broad coalition of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish forces is involved in the liberation of Mosul. Secondly, “the liberated civilian population must be treated fairly, irrespective of ethnic or religious background. And we need to work together to ensure that there is reconciliation in Mosul after the liberation,” Steinmeier said. He added that a joint stabilisation council for Mosul was already being set up in order to decide the priorities for the post-liberation period.
Germany is making a significant contribution to reconstruction and stabilisation in Iraq, providing around 41 million euros in 2016. These funds are being used to restore destroyed infrastructure and to provide the population with essential goods. A key priority of Germany’s aid is to establish a local police force that has good community relations. This is being carried out in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration. The aim is to increase the population’s trust in state security agencies.
Talks on the conflicts in Yemen and Syria
In addition to the situation in Iraq, Steinmeier and Al-Jaafari discussed regional topics. With regard to the situation in Yemen, Steinmeier expressed his regret that the ceasefire, which had only just been announced, is already becoming increasingly fragile. Hopes were thus fading that this ceasefire could become permanent.
Steinmeier said that no major steps towards a political settlement in Syria could be expected during the transition of power in the United States. However, talks are continuing unabated with all sides in order to at least provide humanitarian aid to the population. Steinmeier criticised the restarting of the bombing of eastern Aleppo. The humanitarian situation was being worsened even further and even more people were dying as a result. “Those who play a role in these bombings bear responsibility,” he said.