German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced on Wednesday they plan to send arms to help Iraqi Kurds. (ODD ANDERSEN / AFP/Getty Images)
BONN — Germany has signaled its willingness to supply weapons to Kurds in northern Iraq, two top German officials told journalists on Wednesday.
The country is already supplying humanitarian aid, but would add weapons and ammunition, said Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said. The weapons would aid the Kurds against Islamic State fighters.
“All these goods serve the goal, to enable the Kurdish security forces to defend themselves against the attacks of [the Islamic State],” Steinmeier said.
At a press conference the same day, government spokesman Stefan Seibert said: “[The matter] has to be verified in detail to answer the question how this will be implemented.”
Any weapons delivery would be closely coordinated with the Iraqi government, he said. “The actual delivery is only reasonable if it is carried out where it is needed the most and this is northern Iraq,” said Jens Flossdorf, Defense Ministry spokesman, also on Wednesday.
Officials are finding out which equipment is needed most urgently. “Until now the global community received only relatively unspecific lists,” Flossdorf said. “There is no consolidated list of what the partners and allies are willing to deliver, so that this occasionally can be compared.”
Delivery of military equipment and weapons will also be coordinated with European and other partners. So far the US, the UK, France and others have already expressed willingness to supply the Kurds.
“Also, because of the region of the world where this takes place, we cannot be indifferent about this in Europe or Germany and this also affects our security interests,” Seibert said. This decision by the government had not been easy, but it had been made due to the events in that region, he said
Now the German Army will begin checking what kind of weapons in its arsenal are suited for such a mission and could be made available. This will take about one week, Flossdorf said. “Then it will be coordinated with what other countries want to provide and what is needed there the most.”
As part of the decisions over what military equipment should be delivered, officials must also consider what is instantly ready to use. That could include helmets, but radios could be more complex. In that case, instruction might be necessary.
No decisions have been made on sending German soldiers to provide training, Flossdorf stressed. Training would not necessarily take place in northern Iraq, he added.
The German Parliament will also be part of the decision process on delivering weapons, but the extent of that involvement is unclear, Flossdorf said. However, it is assumed there will be briefings and other involvement. ■