Merkel: Weapons to Iraq Are A 'Chance' to Stop Terrorists
(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; issued September 1, 2014)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her military aid plan to northern Iraq. However, her critics accuse her not only of a poorly-timed announcement, but also going against Germany’s anti-war stance.

Speaking before the Bundestag – the Lower House of the German parliament – on Monday, Chancellor Merkel said it was necessary to send weapons to northern Iraq.

"Our own security interests are threatened," Merkel told German lawmakers.

The previous day, her government confirmed it would supply Kurdish forces battling "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists with 70 million euros ($92 million) worth of high-end military equipment. The roughly 4,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are to receive anti-tank missiles, machine guns, protective gear and communications equipment among other supplies.

The government had deliberated "carefully" over the decision, the German chancellor added.

As part of its arms delivieries, Germany is to send 8,000 G3 assault rifles and 2 million rounds of ammunition

"Right now, we currently have the chance to rescue people's lives and to hinder further mass murder in Iraq. Right now, we have the chance to hinder [Islamic State terrorists] from creating another safe haven. We must take advantage of this chance," she said.

The speech came ahead of a parliamentary vote on Monday. Merkel's conservative Christian Democrat-led political bloc and its left-leaning Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partner, led by Sigmar Gabriel, backed the move.

German Left against decision

The parliamentary group leader of Germany's Left party, Gregor Gysi, strongly criticized Merkel's government for following the US and the EU without UN approval. While he said the IS should be prohibited in Germany, he dismissed the way in which the government had proceeded in the Iraq crisis.

"The [United Nations] must make the decision and not the USA or individual nations," Gysi said, referring to the German government's announcement that it would join EU member states in helping northern Iraq.

Left leader Gregor Gysi wants to end arms exports

He also criticized Merkel's government for supporting sanctions against Russia in reaction to the conflict with Ukraine. Had they pursued a path of diplomacy, they would have had a better chance of gaining Russian support on the UN Security Council for a situation like Iraq, the German opposition leader emphasized.

Gysi also pointed to the poor timing of the debate, which fell on the 75th anniversary of Germany invading Poland. His critique was not the first, as the move signals a major policy shift. Berlin has long been reluctant to join military operations overseas as a direct consequence of the nation's role in WWII. (ends)


German Weapons Deliveries to Iraq's Kurdish Region

The German government has decided to deliver weapons and munitions worth a total of 70 million euros ($91 million) to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. DW provides an overview of the weapons systems in question.

The weapons will be delivered in three tranches to a secure region of Iraq that has not been affected by the civil war, according to the German Defense Ministry. An initial partial delivery will leave Germany in the next two weeks and arrive in Irbil via Baghdad. The entire first delivery to northern Iraq will be completed by the end of September. The second and third deliveries will depend on the situation on the ground.

Berlin will send enough weapons to equip a brigade of 4,000 soldiers, according to Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Von der Leyen said parliamentary approval is not required for the weapons deliveries.

Training, if necessary, will take place in Germany. If that's not possible, training will occur either in Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, or a third country. The deployment of German soldiers for the purpose of training Kurdish forces to use the weapons does not require a parliamentary mandate, according to the Defense Ministry.

First tranche:
- 4,000 G3 assault rifles; 1 million rounds of ammunition
- 20 MG3 heavy machine guns; 500,000 rounds of ammunition
- 4,000 P1 pistols; 500,000 rounds of ammunition
- 20 MILAN anti-tank weapons; 300 guided rockets
- 100 shoulder-fired Panzerfaust 3 rocket launchers; 1,250 rockets
- 20 heavy rocket launchers; 500 rockets
- 50 flare guns; 2,000 rounds
- 5,000 hand grenades
- 20 WOLF jeeps
- 10 lightly armored WOLF jeeps
- 20 UNIMOG trucks

Second tranche:
- 4,000 G3 assault rifles; 1 million rounds of ammunition
- 20 MG3 heavy machine guns; 500,000 rounds of ammunition
- 4,000 P1 pistols; 500,000 rounds of ammunition
- 10 MILAN anti-tank weapons; 200 guided rockets
- 100 shoulder-fired Panzerfaust 3 rocket launchers; 1,250 rockets
- 20 heavy rocket launchers; 500 rockets
- 50 flare guns; 2,000 rounds
- 5,000 hand grenades
- 20 WOLF jeeps
- 10 lightly armored WOLF jeeps
- 20 UNIMOG trucks
- MG3 heavy machine guns

Third tranche:
- 8,000 G36 assault rifles; 4 million rounds of ammunition
- 1 tanker truck
- 5 DINGO-1 armored vehicles
- G36 assault rifles

Total weapons, munitions, and vehicles:
- 8,000 G3 assault rifles; 2 million rounds of ammunition
- 8,000 G36 assault rifles; 4 million rounds of ammunition
- 40 MG3 heavy machine guns; 1 million rounds of ammunition
- 8,000 P1 pistols; 1 million rounds of ammunition
- 30 MILAN anti-tank weapons; 500 guided rockets
- 200 shoulder-fired Panzerfaust 3 rocket launchers; 2,500 rockets
- 40 heavy rocket lauchers; 1,000 rockets
- 100 flare guns; 4,00 rounds
- 10,000 hand grenades
- MILAN anti-tank weapon
- 40 WOLF jeeps
- 20 lightly armored WOLF jeeps
- 40 UNIMOG trucks
- 1 tanker truck
- 5 DINGO-1 armored vehicles

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