Iraq faces complex challenges. Following years of conflict, the country on the rivers Euphrates and Tigris needs to find its own ways to carry out the necessary political, economic and social reforms. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel travelled to Iraq on Tuesday evening (18 April) to underline how Germany can accompany Iraq on this path.
Gabriel’s schedule on Wednesday (19 April) included talks with President Fuad Masoum and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, in which he made clear that Germany supported the Iraqi Government in many areas. This support went far beyond Germany’s role in the fight against IS. Germany is pursuing a comprehensive approach to stabilisation, which includes humanitarian aid, strengthening the Iraqi security forces and reconstruction support.
Foreign Minister Gabriel said that Germany was making a key contribution in this area and had already provided a billion euros in support to Iraq since 2014. “However,” he added, “money alone will not be enough. In the end, the country’s stability will depend on the Government’s planned reforms, which must now be put into practice.”
Reconciliation and reconstruction – creating opportunities for the region
Gabriel also met representatives of churches and civil society in Baghdad in order to learn more about the conflicts in the country. He was impressed by his interlocutors. “There is great optimism,” he said. In order to rebuild Iraq, it was vital that the internal reconciliation process make headway and that the country be kept together.
Iraq’s economic development is also an important factor for stabilisation. “Iraq has considerable economic potential. And the reform processes that have been launched are the most important means of reviving this potential.” It was now important to form a state free of corruption, with a functioning public administration and, above all, a trustworthy and independent judiciary. Otherwise, there would be hardly any international investment. Rebuilding the country – as regards both its economy and society – is thus the main priority. “Ultimately, security can only be created if two things happen – IS is defeated and the country is developed, thus creating opportunities. As Germans, we are committed to making this happen.”
Improving living conditions – Gabriel visits Erbil
Gabriel travelled on to Bashiqa and Erbil on Thursday. Here, too, the focus was on rebuilding the country. In Bashiqa, which was captured by IS in 2014 but has now been liberated by the Peshmerga, Foreign Minister Gabriel handed over generators, water tanks and clearance vehicles worth over a million euros. Situated15 kilometres from the IS stronghold of Mosul, scarcely a single building in the town has escaped damage, and every third building has been completely destroyed. “When you come from a peaceful country, it a really shocking sight,” Gabriel said.
He also visited a 50‑kilometre strip of mines used by IS to secure its territory. After his visit, Gabriel said that far more than the 15 million euros provided to date would be needed to support the landmine-clearance project. “That is a relatively small amount compared with what it means when people can simply return to their fields.”
A visit to a camp for internally displaced persons highlighted how important it is to create opportunities for people in the region. “Improving living conditions is the best way to combat ideologies founded on hatred.”