Even if Iraq is no longer in the headlines in Germany every day now that Daesh has been defeated, the country remains a key factor for regional stability. Here more than anywhere else, opportunities and risks abound. The Government has been elected democratically, the population is young and the post-Saddam generation is keen to help shape the future of the country. At the same time, regional and ethno-religious tensions, the continued threat of terrorism and the severe impacts of the climate crisis are imperilling Iraq’s cohesion.
I want to reassure our Iraqi partners that Germany not only believes in a bright and peaceful future for Iraq, but will also continue to work to this end. For if renewed violence and political division were to ensue as a result of renewed terrorism, Iran’s influence or the water crisis destroying livelihoods, the consequences would be immense for the neighbouring states, too. On the other hand, if Iraq manages to achieve stability and development in a democratic and diverse country, it could become a model for the whole region. Germany has therefore made available over 3.4 billion euros to Iraq since 2014 for civilian projects alone.
Working with Iraq and our international partners, we are keeping up the pressure on Daesh. During my visit, I will have the opportunity to meet German servicemen and -women, and to gain a first-hand impression of our military engagement in the country. In Baghdad and Erbil, I will talk about the problematic role played in the region by Iran, and about the Turkish and Iranian attacks on Iraqi territory. And I will call for everybody to tackle the consequences of the climate crisis together, so that the people in modern-day Mesopotamia can not only look back on thousands of years of history, but can also look to the future with confidence.
Nine years ago, hordes of Daesh fighters brutally attacked northern Iraq. Thousands of men and boys were murdered, women and children were kidnapped and enslaved – and the world looked on. Because the international community did not prevent this genocide, there is all the more reason for us to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that these crimes are investigated and the survivors see justice done. With this in mind, I will meet with the UN commission of inquiry, visit reconstruction projects and learn more about the situation of the many internally displaced persons in the country. The trauma of this genocide sits deep – as was clearly shown during the pandemic by the number of women in the camps who committed suicide. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that the survivors are not abandoned.