COLOGNE, Germany — German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer visited Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday in a show of support for extending the German military’s mission to fight the Islamic State group.
The parliamentary mandate for Germany’s participation in the international coalition to combat the militant group expires at the end of October, and lawmakers opposed to an extension are posturing to keep it that way.
Germany contributes noncombat capabilities to the coalition, including aerial reconnaissance and refueling, with aircraft stationed in Jordan. The German military, or Bundeswehr, also runs training programs for Iraqi forces in central and northern Iraq.
During her first visit to deployed forces since taking office last month, Kramp-Karrenbauer traveled to Jordan on Monday and met with Iraqi officials on Tuesday.
“It's hard to explain to the Iraqi side that the continuation of the mission is not a given,” she told reporters in Baghdad following talks with the country's president, prime minister and defense minister.
The local leaders had made an “urgent plea” for Germany to stay and even expand the scope of its involvement, Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
“We are now at a decision point about whether the past victories against the Islamic State will be sustainable,” she added. The possibility of expanding Germany’s mission would be seriously evaluated in Berlin, she announced.
ISIS no longer commands significant territory, but coalition officials have warned that the fight is far from over. Germany is interested in playing a part in rebuilding the areas once held by the group, including clearing homes of improvised explosive devices planted by ISIS fighters, and jump-starting economic development.
German lawmakers are expected to debate a potential continuation of the Bundeswehr’s mandate in the coming weeks.