Germany continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with Iraq in the fight against IS
Mine clearance in Iraq, © Sean Sutton/MAG
IS remains a threat to many people in Iraq. In the fight against the terrorist organisation, the Cabinet initiated the extension of the counter-IS mandate yesterday. Why is this mandate still so important?
Support for the stabilisation of Iraq and the fight against the IS terrorist organisation
IS remains a major threat to people in Iraq, the region and beyond. The terrorist organisation operates from the underground and is still able to execute attacks in Iraq and Syria, including attacks of a more complex nature. Its resurgence would have far‑reaching consequences for the region and impact security in Europe and around the world.
At the request of and in conjunction with partners in Iraq, NATO allies and within the context of the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh, Germany’s engagement therefore continues to be of great importance.
Together with its partners, Germany wants to consolidate what has been achieved to date with regard to stabilisation, prevent the resurgence of IS and further promote reconciliation in Iraq. The mandate for the deployment of the Bundeswehr within the framework of the NATO mission in Iraq and the Global Coalition against Daesh is therefore to be extended until the end of October 2023. Syria was already removed as an area of operations in the mandate adopted back in January 2022.
During the last mandate period, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Defence submitted a review on the counter-IS effort to the German Bundestag. The new mandate takes the review into account, which contains a recommendation that the operation be continued and outlines the strengths of the networked approach which the German Government has been pursuing in Iraq. Within the context of this approach, Germany’s military commitment is embedded in a comprehensive civilian engagement made up of development cooperation, stabilisation and humanitarian assistance.
The envisaged extended mandate will remain focused on building up the capacities of the Iraqi armed forces and security forces and supporting Iraq in establishing sustainable security structures within the framework of NATO’s mission in Iraq and the Global Coalition against Daesh. Furthermore, Germany is supporting the fight against IS within the Global Coalition through air-to-air refuelling and airlift, air reconnaissance and the capture of aerial images of the operational situation. The Bundeswehr has not been active over Syrian air space since the mandate was extended in January 2022.
Iraq: Supporting long-term stabilisation, addressing the past and reconciliation
As co-chair of the Stabilisation Working Group of the Global Coalition against Daesh as well as the Stabilisation Task Force in Iraq, Germany has assumed a high degree of political responsibility for the stabilisation of areas liberated from IS, which is appreciated by its partners. Since 2013, the Federal Foreign Office has implemented stabilisation measures with a total volume of around 280 million euro in Iraq, particularly in areas liberated from IS. A large portion of these funds were deployed via the Funding Facility for Stabilization, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) fund set up for Iraq with Germany’s support. In the longer term, responsibility for stabilisation measures implemented in this context is to be handed over to the Iraqi Government.
In addition, Germany is supporting, among other things, the establishment of a citizen-friendly police force, mine clearance and the training of Iraqi specialists for this important work, the prosecution of IS crimes, reconciliation processes within Iraq, psychosocial support for victims of human rights violations as well as the return, reintegration and deradicalisation of persons believed to have ties to IS. All in all, these measures are intended to boost the population’s confidence in the Iraqi state, foster the continued return of persons displaced within Iraq by IS (around five of six million were able to return, partly thanks to Germany’s engagement), as well as avert the resurgence of IS and stabilise Iraq on a long-term basis by inclusively addressing crimes.
In total, Germany has provided civilian support (including humanitarian assistance, development cooperation and stabilisation) to the tune of almost 3 billion euro since the beginning of the fight against IS in Iraq.
Syria: Stabilising areas liberated from IS remains vital
The threat posed by IS does not stop at the Iraqi border. Germany is therefore working closely with its partners in the Global Coalition against Daesh to also implement civilian measures in areas in north-eastern Syria liberated from IS. The aim is to consolidate what has been achieved so far in the fight against IS and to prevent its resurgence. This includes, in particular, deradicalisation programmes for family members of former IS fighters and reintegration measures for these families, but also for the many internally displaced persons with no actual links to IS who are often subjected to stigmatisation on return from camps in north-east Syria. The German Government’s comprehensive approach includes support for the Syrian home communities taking in those returning, as well as the improvement of people’s living conditions, for example by rebuilding destroyed supply infrastructure and ensuring better food security and healthcare. Having provided around 123 million euro for stabilisation measures since 2017 and pledged substantial additional sums aimed at strengthening resilience, Germany is the second largest donor within the Global Coalition in north-eastern Syria and is playing a leading role there.
Humanitarian assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq and Syria
The United Nations estimates that 2.5 million people in Iraq are in need of humanitarian assistance. Just under one million internally displaced persons have not yet been able to return home. This is because it is not safe for them in their home regions or their livelihoods there have been destroyed. After more than 11 years of conflict, 14.6 million people in Syria are dependent on humanitarian assistance.
Germany is the world’s second largest donor of humanitarian assistance and provided around 2.6 billion euro for this in 2021. Around 750 million euro of this amount were earmarked in 2021 for the support of people in Iraq, Syria and neighbouring countries affected by the conflict in Syria.