BY: Frank-Walter Steinmeier
…Germany is affected too. That’s why its decision to pitch in with military and humanitarian support in the fight against the IS.
The terror organisation that calls itself the Islamic State is advancing with monstrous brutality, persecuting and killing anyone who stands in its way. In the areas they control, the IS terrorists enslave and humiliate people who do not share their beliefs. Yazidis and Christians, but also Muslims who refuse to submit to their radical ideology, are forced to leave everything behind and flee for their lives. The IS now controls a transnational territory that is home to more than five million people and contains cities, oil wells, dams and airports. The fact that these terrorists include a growing number of foreign fighters from Europe is a cause of alarm for all of us.
With the advanced weapons that the IS has captured, and its significant financial means, the terrorist group is a threat to the survival of Iraq’s Kurdistan region and to Iraqi statehood itself — and even to the already fragile regional order in the Middle East. Without the recent determined military intervention by the United States, Kurdish forces would not have been able to halt the advance by comparatively better-armed IS fighters.
In this dramatic situation, Germany has provided humanitarian assistance to the people fleeing the IS and supported
the Kurdistan regional government by supplying food, blankets, tents and generators. Now my government has decided to expand its aid to the Kurds in the fight against the terrorists by sending weapons and military equipment.
This decision has sparked intense debate in Germany. Indeed, some people even see it as a fundamental change in German foreign policy.
I do not share this view. The fact is that Germany is taking on its responsibility in the world — in the fight against the IS, but also in the Middle East, in Africa and in Afghanistan. Along with the European Union, we are particularly active in the search for a political solution to the highly dangerous crisis close to home, the conflict between Russia
Responsibility is always about concrete action. We must calibrate our engagement depending on what is at stake for the fundamental principles of a peaceful and just international order, for our own interests and our closest partner countries and allies. Germany’s scepticism about military intervention and its restrictive approach to arms exports are politically well founded and deeply ingrained in Germans’ collective consciousness. There is no paradigm shift regarding our foreign-policy principles, which include a policy of military restraint. But in the face of a threat like the one posed by continued…