• The sovereignty of Iraq

    Baghdad demands withdrawal of US-led military coalition from Iraq following US drone killing of Iraqi militia commander. Bundeswehr units also affected.

    BAGHDAD/BERLIN/WASHINGTON (own report) - The German Armed Forces are facing a possible forced withdrawal from Iraq. This situation follows last Thursday’s US drone assassination of the commander of an Iraqi Shiite militia. Responding to the attack, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al Sudani declared that he is determined to end the presence of the US-led military coalition in Iraq, which includes a Bundeswehr contingent. Unauthorised US operations on Iraqi territory such as the recent murder would, he said, no longer be tolerated. The foreign military presence has been under attack for years, especially from organisations of the Shiite majority, which include forces aligned to Iran. Western governments, on the other hand, insist on keeping units in Iraq, saying their troop deployments are legitimised by the ongoing fight against IS. A military presence is also seen as useful in the ongoing tussle over Tehran’s influence. The build-up of tensions is also occurring in the wake of Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip. Any withdrawal would result in a significant loss of influence, also for Germany, in the Middle East. Read more

  • An Assassination and its Consequences

    Conflict over Iran escalates. Iraqi parliament demands the withdrawal of the German Bundeswehr

    WASHINGTON/TEHRAN/BERLIN (Own report) - Following the USA's assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and other high-ranking Iraqi and Iranian military personnel, demands are being raised in Baghdad to expel the foreign troops, including the Bundeswehr. The Anti-IS Coalition troops, stationed in Iraq, must leave the country, the Iraqi parliament ruled yesterday. The German government insists on keeping German troops in Iraq to be able to maintain its options for gaining influence in that country. Berlin had earlier already rejected calls to end its deployment for security reasons. Camp Taji near Baghdad, where 27 German soldiers are currently stationed, had already come under missile fire in June. The camp could become a possible target for retaliatory strikes by Iran or pro-Iranian militias. Whereas the German government euphemizes the assassination of Soleimani as "a line of action undertaken by the United States", the chairman of the SPD parliamentary group officially called it a “violation of international law." A government advisor spoke of "state terrorism." Read more

  • Under Fire

    BERLIN/BAGHDAD (Own report) - While Berlin is pushing for the prolongation of the Bundeswehr's deployment in Syria and Iraq, German soldiers have come under fire north of Baghdad. Last weekend, several mortar rounds were fired at Camp Taji, one of the Iraqi armed forces' largest bases, where German soldiers are training Iraqi military personnel. Officially, the training is part of the ongoing war against the IS, whose remaining structures are still operating underground. Normally, German participation in that war is due to end on October 31. The German government now seeks to prolong this deployment to emphasize its efforts to gain influence in the Middle East, also militarily - against the SPD, which until now has opposed the measure. However, there are signs that the SPD is changing course. At least, there is a danger that in Iraq, the German contingent in Baghdad could be drawn into the escalating confrontation between the USA and Iran as can be seen by the recent mortar attacks. Read more

  • The IS Comeback

    BERLIN/BAGHDAD/MOSUL (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas' brief visit to Baghdad is accompanied by reports that the IS militia (Islamic State) is regaining strength. Maas was in the Iraqi capital yesterday for talks with Iraq's new Prime Minister to emphasize Berlin's push for obtaining stronger influence in Iraq. He also promoted a billion-euro deal with Siemens and listened to his Baghdad counterpart's call for Iraqi refugees to return to their homeland. According to reports, Iraqi authorities are not only responsible for the slow reconstruction of Sunni regions, but Sunnis are being also detained arbitrarily, tortured or condemned to death without proof of guilt. "This is not just revenge on the IS," explained a senior intelligence officer, "this is revenge on Sunnis." Observers warn that this will refill the ranks of the still existing IS in clandestinity, which has again "taken the offensive." Read more

  • BERLIN/BAGHDAD/AL AZRAQ (Own report) - Berlin is considering the establishment of a permanent Bundeswehr base in the Middle East, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said during her recent visits to Jordan and Iraq. German Armed Forces could be stationed at Jordan's Al Azraq Airbase for an extended period in relative proximity to Iraq - similar to the US Persian Gulf bases. Despite the military victory already achieved over the IS, the Bundeswehr's deployment will, for the time being, be continued within the framework of the Anti-IS Coalition, to help rebuild Iraq, the German minister announced in Baghdad. Berlin has been seeking new influence in Iraq, for quite some time, also because Iran has been able to enhance massively its position in the country over the past few years. German Tornados taking off from Al Azraq Airbase, have already furnished reconnaissance data leading to the bombing of a school. Their flights over Syria are possibly in violation of international law. Read more

  • NATO in Baghdad

    BERLIN/BAGHDAD/TEHERAN (Own report) - Today, Thursday, NATO’s defense ministers begin their preparations for the war alliance’s Iraq mission, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced in light of the ministers’ meeting ending today in Brussels. The mission is in accordance with US demands, which not only seek to empower Iraqi armed forces to permanently suppress IS, but particularly, to scale back Teheran’s significant influence on Baghdad. Iran owes its new influence in Iraq and other countries of the region - from Syria to Yemen and Qatar - to the failed and bloody wars and various aggressions by the West and its closest Middle East allies. Teheran could not have achieved its current influence in Baghdad, without the 2003 US invasion and subsequent extensive destruction of the country. Berlin signaled its interest to participate in the upcoming NATO mission to Iraq. Read more

  • BERLIN/ERBIL/AL AZRAQ (Own report) - The German Bundeswehr is about to reorient its presence in the Middle East. At their exploratory talks to form a coalition government, the CDU-CSU/SPD decided to phase out the mandate to train Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga in Erbil - already at the end of April, according to recent information. At the same time, the German Armed Forces is preparing for a possible long-term deployment at the al-Azraq Air Base in Jordan. In addition to flying reconnaissance missions from this base, "other assignments" are in discussion, for example the training of Iraqi soldiers or dispatching "advisors" to various countries in the region. For many years, Berlin has been focused on obtaining political, economic and military influence in the Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region. However, the September 25, 2017 referendum on secession has considerably weakened the region, exposing it to growing Iranian influence. For the time being, it can hardly be considered a vehicle serving to implement German interests. Read more

  • RIYADH/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - As the findings of the UK-based organization "Conflict Armament Research" (CAR) confirms, the IS had disposed of a significant amount of firearms and ammunition from EU arsenals to defend itself in Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul against the Anti-IS-Coalition. According to this research, two of Germany's most important arms customers - the United States and Saudi Arabia - had acquired military hardware from Romania and Bulgaria to provide it to insurgent militias in Syria, which had transferred some of it to the IS. For example, anti-tank missiles were re-exported to Syria without the knowledge or approval of the original suppliers. The Free Syrian Police, which had been co-financed by the German Foreign Ministry, has also supplied jihadis. It employs police officers selected from al Qaeda's Syrian subsidiary. In at least one case, these officers had facilitated the stoning execution of two women. Read more