At the beginning of a four-day visit to Iraq, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced further German support for the crisis-ridden country. Iraq remains a "key factor for the stability of the region," said the Green politician in the capital, Baghdad.
Germany will continue to work towards a peaceful future for the country. "Because if new terrorism, Iranian influence or the destruction of livelihoods caused by the water crisis should lead to violence and political divisions here again, the consequences would also hit neighboring countries massively," she warned.
Baerbock first wanted to meet her counterpart Fuad Hussein in Baghdad. A meeting with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani was then planned. In the evening, the minister wanted to fly on to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous regions in northern Iraq.
Baerbock: Keep up the pressure against IS together
Baerbock said that if Iraq succeeds in achieving stability and development in democracy and diversity over the long term, it could become a role model for the entire region. That is why Germany has supported Iraq since 2014 with over 3.4 billion euros in civilian funds alone.
On the side of Iraq and international partners, the Federal Republic is maintaining the pressure to pursue the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). In order to get an idea of the German military engagement, she will meet soldiers of the Bundeswehr.
Terror militia defeated militarily, but attacks continue
A few years ago, the IS terrorist militia controlled large areas in Iraq and Syria. Although the jihadists have now been defeated militarily, IS cells continue to carry out attacks.
In Erbil, the Bundeswehr is training Kurdish security forces in the fight against IS. The center of the German training mission is the multinational "Camp Stephan" run by the Bundeswehr.
Before the eyes of the world public, the terrorist militia IS in northern Iraq murdered thousands of men and boys and abducted and enslaved women and children, Baerbock recalled. "Because the world community failed to prevent this genocide, we have all the more responsibility for investigating these crimes and for the survivors to receive justice."
That is why she will speak to the responsible UN investigative commission, visit reconstruction projects and find out about the situation of internally displaced persons. "It is our obligation and responsibility not to leave the survivors alone."
Baerbock wants to address the role of Iran and Turkey
The minister announced that she would also like to talk about Iran's problematic regional role and the Turkish and Iranian attacks on Iraqi territory in both Baghdad and Erbil. In addition, she will promote the joint fight against the consequences of the climate crisis, "so that the people in Mesopotamia can not only look back on a history that is thousands of years old, but can also look to the future with confidence".
Northern Iraq is also considered unstable because neighboring Turkey regularly takes action there against offshoots of the Kurdish Workers' Party PKK, which is banned in Turkey. The PKK, for its part, frequently carries out attacks in northern Iraq. It is also considered a terrorist organization in the US and Europe.
The headquarters of the PKK is in the inaccessible Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq. According to Kurdish sources, three people were killed in a Turkish drone attack in northern Iraq at the end of February.
Talks in the Kurdish capital Erbil
Baerbock wanted to meet the Prime Minister of the Kurdish autonomous regions in northern Iraq, Masrur Barsani, in Erbil on Wednesday. Later, a meeting with the President of the Kurdish autonomous regions in the country, Nechirvan Barsani, was also planned. The program also included a visit to a camp for internally displaced persons who have been expelled by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia since 2014. Baerbock wanted to find out more about the crimes of IS in a documentation center.