Military Relaunch

Shaped by Holocaust, Germany Weighs Lifting Ban to Prevent Iraq Genocide

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Fearing genocide in Iraq, Germany weighs lifting historic taboo against sending arms to military conflict zones.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Germany’s constitution restricts its possibilities for active combat in wars abroad.
    • Germany does not see itself as a primary actor in the Middle East but politicians, galvanized by fera of genocide, are considering how to support the Yazidi in Iraq.
    • The German taboo on war has been eroded, gradually and reluctantly, in conflicts from the Balkans to Afghanistan.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

A soldier rests on an armoured infantry Marder tank of the German armed forces, Bundeswehr, at the exercise area in in Stetten, near Munich. Germany says it may send armored vehicles to Iraq.  REUTERS/Miro Kuzmanovic (GERMANY)
A soldier rests on an armoured infantry Marder tank of the German armed forces, Bundeswehr, at the exercise area in in Stetten, near Munich. Germany says it may send armored vehicles to Iraq. REUTERS/Miro Kuzmanovic (GERMANY)

 

A bipartisan group of political leaders in Germany are considering support for the Yazidi ethnic minority in northern Iraq, who are being attacked by Islamic State forces.

Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defense minister, said on Tuesday that she is looking at providing support for the Iraqi army. She ruled out the delivery of weapons but is weighing other options such as armored vehicles, protective vests and night vision equipment.

The statements by Ms. Von der Leyen, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own Christian Democratic Party, were echoed across the government. Germany is  ruled by a coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, which has opposed overt military involvement because of the country’s long-held post-war passivism.

But given the escalating violence in northern Iraq, Germany is considering dropping its categorical stance to prevent a new genocide in Iraq, Ms. Von der Leyen said. With the situation so grave for the Yazidis, even Social Democrats appear open to redrawing the line on German military involvement.

Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the Social Democrats and Germany’s vice chancellor and minister for economic affairs, said, “depending on how the situation develops, Germany will have to consider all options.”

The Yazidi minority in northern Iraq is being pursued by extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, forces and the United Nations has said they face genocide.

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