The decision if whether or not Germany will send weapons to Kurdish forces fighting against the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Iraq, will be taken today on Sunday (31st August).
Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking to public broadcaster ARD in an interview on Sunday accused Isis, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” of genocide. Henning Otte, CDU/CSU defense policy spokesman in the Bundestag told the newspaper “Die Welt” that the Iraq decision to send weapons would be “an exception.”
The “exception” is a clear reference to the traditional line of German foreign policy regarding war zones. Since World War Two Germany carefully avoided direct military involvements or leading responsibilities in dealing with global conflict zones . Even if Berlin participated in the international mission in Afghanistan, the German opposition to the Iraqi war in 2003 has been a clear and firm position against the US-led conflict.
The decision to arm Kurds in Iraq, already approved by the majority of politicians, is still at the centre of many debates in Germany. According to the results of a poll by Forsa last week, 63 percent of Germans are against supplying weapons to Kurdish forces.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier, who visited Iraq last week, said “We need the courage and willingness to intervene… We in Europe and Germany cannot remain indifferent to these developments. The collapse of the Kurdish lines of defense, or even the collapse of the Iraqi state, a military conflagration throughout the Middle East: all this may happen if the international community does nothing to prevent precisely that.”
Steinmeier also underlined that Germany’s aim is to enable the Kurdish forces to defend themselves against the attacks of ISIS. For this purpose of self-defense, the “assistance” for Iraq, organized in close coordination with its European and international partners, will include humanitarian assistance and military equipment.
Germany is the world’s third largest arms exporter after the United States and Russia but several sources doubt about the ability of the Bundeswehr to supply what it has been promised. For example Germany won’t be able to supply the night vision equipment because of the deterioration occurred to the vests in the storage.
Merkel insisted that “under no circumstances” Germany would “send troops to Iraq”. On Sunday the Government will make the final decision. In the meanwhile Germany’s contribution for the Kurds has been reduced to delivering biscuits and sausages.