Policy-Shaping Power in the Middle East (I)

BAGHDAD/ERBIL/BERLIN (Own report) – With its military intervention in Syria and Iraq, Germany is emerging as a “policy-shaping power in the Middle East,” according to a government advisor of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The intervention in Syria, decided last week, could, therefore, last ten years and could be accompanied by “long-term” efforts to “politically reorganize” the entire region, with the cornerstone being military units, equipped and trained by the German government, serving as ground troops for the war against the “Islamic State” (IS/Daesh). In Iraq, the militia of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq could take on this role, whereas Berlin only provides minimal support to the Iraqi government’s armed forces. Whereas the government in Baghdad has good relations with Iran and Russia, the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq is seen as loyal to the West. Having illegally remained in office beyond the August deadline in an insidious coup, the Regional Government’s President Masoud Barzani, with whom German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met yesterday, is responsible for the brutal repression of civil protests. Ultimately – and with Berlin’s military aid for his Peshmerga – Barzani may be able to proclaim “Iraqi Kurdistan’s” statehood.

Reorganization Through Warfare

With its military intervention in Syria, including reconnaissance flights over Iraq, Germany is emerging as a “policy-shaping power in the Middle East,” according to Markus Kaim from the Research Division International Security of the German chancellery-financed Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The Bundeswehr’s mission will not be a brief intervention, but is designed to last “for several years,” writes Kaim; German Foreign Minster Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) speaks of “ten years.” In any case, “strategic patience” is required. These military operations are accompanied by efforts at an “ultimate political reorganization” of the region. Germany has assumed the obligation, “in cooperation with other countries” of a “protracted military, but above all political” operation in the region. It is a “novelty in German policy” for Berlin to apply a “reorganization concept” in protracted intervention, writes Kaim, “something we have yet to know.”[1]

Local Ground Troops

In an interview published last week, Kaim pointed out the cornerstones of Berlin’s “concept to reorganize” the Middle East. The international military alliance against the “Islamic State” (IS, Daesh) will not be effective “without ground troops.” The deployment of western forces is out of the question, Kaim explains, obviously forgetting that some special forces units are already operating in the war on IS/Daesh. Even though “a joint army under the Arab League’s leadership” would be “conceivable,” it cannot be materialized, in this concrete case, because of disagreements in the Arab world over Syria’s future. “Arming local forces” is the only option left open – “on the Syrian, side the Kurds and moderate insurgents and on the Iraqi side, the Kurds and Sunni militia.”[2] Kaim does not mention Syrian and Iraqi government forces.



On the other hand, in spite of all declarations to the contrary, the Barzani Clan and the regional government in Erbil have never ceased their pursuit of secession from Iraq and statehood. Even though, during his talks yesterday with Barzani, Foreign Minister Steinmeier publicly called for the national unity of Iraq to be maintained, behind the scenes in Berlin other accents are heard. The Kurdish-speaking population of northern Iraq “already enjoys more freedoms and autonomy than the Iraqi Constitution provides for,” explains Günter Seufert, an SWP expert on Turkey and the Near East. “They are not going to back-pedal.” Their “statehood” will “develop decisively further in the next ten years.”[8] This is already taking place, not only in the military sphere, in close collaboration with Berlin, Erbil’s long-time supporter. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[9]) The loyalty of a new “Iraqi Kurdistan” nation can be expected accordingly.

Other reports and background information on this theme can be found here: Troop Supplier to Syria, and The New Barbarians.

Full article: Policy-Shaping Power in the Middle East (I) (German Foreign Policy)

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