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Iraq conference in Paris: Joint strategy to combat ISIS

16.09.2014 - Article

Foreign Minister Steinmeier attended the international Iraq conference in Paris on Monday (15 September). He said it was time to take action to counter the threat posed by ISIS.

Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier attended the international conference on peace and security in Iraq held in Paris on Monday (15 September). Referring to the joint action against ISIS, he made it clear that none of the participants could tolerate a “return to barbarism”. He said that a joint “political strategy which enjoys broad support” was needed to counter the threat posed by the Islamist terrorists.

It is time to take action

Foreign Minister Steinmeier speaking to the media
Foreign Minister Steinmeier speaking to the media© Photothek/Imo

It was the first conference of its kind: at the initiative of France’s President François Hollande and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Masum, representatives of just under 30 states as well as the EU, the United Nations and the Arab League, came together in the French Foreign Ministry on Monday. The meeting focused on joint efforts to ensure security in Iraq and the region in view of the massive threat posed by ISIS Islamist fighters.

President Hollande said at the start of the conference that the ISIS threat was global and that there thus had to be a global response. Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier also commented that the initiative to hold the Paris meeting had come “at the right time”. He stated shortly before the conference:

Areas under ISIS control are being subjected to murder, rape and pillaging. The international community must act in a determined manner to combat this threat to Iraq, the entire region and us, too.

For a political strategy against ISIS

Presidents Hollande and Masum on the podium
Presidents Hollande and Masum on the podium© Photothek/Imo

Ahead of the conference, Steinmeier called for a political strategy “which enjoys broad support and is firmly anchored in the region” in order to counter the ISIS threat. The German Foreign Minister emphasised once more that humanitarian assistance for Iraq would not be enough on its own. He went on to say that military action was not the way to resolve the current situation.

At the close of the consultations in Paris, Steinmeier again stressed the importance of joint action against ISIS:

It is important that as many states as possible – not only from the West, not only from Europe, not only members of the UN Security Council, but also Iraq’s neighbours and the Arab world as a whole – are involved.

The conference participants also expressed their support in Paris for the new Iraqi Government under Prime Minister Haider Al‑Abadi. The German Foreign Minister stressed that the decision to equip the Kurdish security forces in order to help fight ISIS had not been easy for Germany.

An internationally coordinated approach is needed

View of the conference room
View of the conference room© Photothek/Imo

Foreign Minister Steinmeier also stated that it was necessary, in coordination with Iraq’s Arab neighbours, to consider together how further regional destabilisation by ISIS could be avoided. He expressed his satisfaction that many representatives of Arab states had also decided to take joint action against ISIS.

One crucial aspect of the joint international efforts is to ensure that the UN Security Council resolution is implemented and the flow of fighters and money to ISIS stemmed. Here, too, there was agreement among the conference participants in Paris, stated Steinmeier.

The task now was to translate the “growing agreement into operative goals”. To this end, he went on to say, there would be further international meetings on Iraq in the coming days. For example, at Germany’s initiative a meeting was scheduled to take place in New York:

I announced this morning that I will use our G7 Presidency to advance this issue during the UN General Assembly week.

Murder “flies in the face of human civilisation”

On Sunday (14 September), Foreign Minister Steinmeier spoke of the murder of Briton David Haines. Haines was working as a development aid worker in Syria and was abducted there in spring 2013. Steinmeier called his murder “an act of barbarity which utterly flies in the face of human civilisation”. The Minister stated that broadcasting and disseminating the recording of his killing online was “unacceptable and violates yet another taboo”.

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