Germany and the USA have promised Iraq further support in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). "We will keep up the pressure on IS together so that no Iraqi man or woman ever again has to suffer from the terror of the IS," said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) after a meeting with her Iraqi colleague Fuad Hussein in the capital Baghdad with Blick on the international anti-IS coalition.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who was in Baghdad on an unannounced visit independently of Baerbock, stressed after talks with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani that the US wanted to continue to focus on the fight against IS. The US-led coalition has freed more than 4.5 million Iraqis from the terrorists' "cruel grip". US soldiers have been deployed in Iraq for almost 20 years. Around 2,500 US soldiers are currently stationed in the Arab country.
Baerbock said Iraq has made impressive progress in the fight against IS - but the terrorist militia remains a threat. That is why German soldiers are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government as part of the international anti-IS coalition. The German focus is on advising Iraqi security forces.
Bundeswehr soldiers in anti-terror operations
In October, the Bundestag extended the mandate for the deployment of German soldiers to stabilize Iraq by one year. This means that up to 500 men and women can continue to be deployed in the Arab country. According to the latest information from the Ministry of Defence, around 300 men and women are currently deployed, around 50 of them in Baghdad, around 100 in Erbil and around 170 in Jordan. The Bundeswehr has been on site since 2017, performing transport tasks and air refueling for allies and partners who are also involved in the fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS).
The focus of the Bundeswehr mission is currently supporting Iraq through advice - and no longer through traditional training. It's about helping Iraqi forces to ensure security in the country and the fight against IS itself.
Baerbock to Tehran: Cease attacks on Iraq
Baerbock called on Iran to accept the sovereignty of its neighbor Iraq and to stop all attacks on its territory. "With its rocket attacks, the Iranian regime shows that it not only ruthlessly and brutally oppresses its own people. It is obviously also risking human lives and stability in the entire region in order to stay in power," criticized Baerbock.
According to the official translation, your Iraqi colleague Hussein called it "unacceptable that Iraqi areas are being misused as a platform for attacks by neighboring countries". Iraqi sovereignty must not be violated. According to Kurdish sources, three people were killed in a Turkish drone attack in northern Iraq at the end of February. Iran-loyal militias have great influence in Iraq. They demand the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and are repeatedly suspected of attacking bases of the US-led coalition.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards regularly attack targets in the north of the neighboring country. Tehran accuses the Kurdish groups there of supporting the nationwide protests against the government and the Islamic system of rule in Iran. Since the death of the young Kurdish Iranian Mahsa Amini in mid-September, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets.
Baerbock promised that Germany would continue to work towards a peaceful future for Iraq. "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.
Arrival in the Bundeswehr transport aircraft A400M
In the morning, Baerbock flew from Berlin to the Jordanian capital, Amman, with a government airbus belonging to the Bundeswehr's flight readiness service. At the airport there, for safety reasons, she boarded a Bundeswehr A400M propeller transport aircraft. She also wanted to fly to Erbil, the Kurdish capital in northern Iraq, in one of these Airbuses.
After speaking with Foreign Minister Hussein, she met Prime Minister al-Sudani for a meeting.