What weapon does this Iraqi soldier use

Advising the Iraqi army by the German armed forcesOf military aid and its own momentum

"Everyone who deals with the situation in Iraq knows that the Iraqi army itself has made progress. We want to train the armed forces of the central government. The IS terrorist militia has been defeated as a caliphate, that is, as a state-like entity. to support the central government structures of the country. We want to do that with a new mandate that focuses on training and support services. "

What the SPD foreign politician Niels Annen says corresponds to the hopes of the federal government. The grand coalition now wants to put the Iraq mandate on a new footing. With training in Baghdad and Central Iraq. The previous mission in Kurdistan would then only be a local appendix to a mission whose contact person is the central government in Baghdad. However, representatives of the religious minorities warn of a development in Iraq that is more of a cause for concern. Like Romeo Hakari, representative of the Assyrian Christians in the country. As evidence, he refers to the sermon that a high Shiite dignitary gave a few months ago.

"Sheikh Musawi spoke to students from the religious faculty of Karbala. What he says resembles the way ISIS thought and acted when its fighters marched into Mosul. They gave the non-Muslims three or four options: Either stay there - but as Muslims - and enjoy the rights of a human being, or be expelled. And whoever does not accept this will either be beheaded with a sword or hanged or pay a protective tax that every non-Muslim has to pay monthly to the Islamic State. "

As chairman of the religious foundations in Iraq, the preacher belongs to the top of the Shiite clergy. Shiites make up the vast majority of the population in Iraq. And views such as his do have the backing of the Iraqi government, believes the Kurdish-Iraqi human rights activist Fuad Zindani.

"They are of course religious, very, very. You could say: Islamist, but Shiite Islamists. Because Iraq is allied with Iran anyway. And that does not serve Germany. Iranian advisors are in Iraq. Iran itself clearly said that." Our advisors in Iraq are. Shiites, militias, allies, are with these advisors. "

According to Zindani, the military presence of Iran goes hand in hand with clearly defined territorial claims to certain areas in Iraq.

"Iran wants the Shiite moon to start from Iran, through Iraq and Kurdistan to Syria and Lebanon. And Iran also wants to end the presence of Sunnis in this area. Iran is trying to have a corridor to Lebanon. A Shiite corridor The Iraqi central government is almost entirely under the control of Iran. "

Kamal Sido: "Ultimately, the Shiite militias also want to introduce Sharia"

Kamal Sido, Middle East advisor for the Society for Threatened Peoples: "Iran - or the central government in Baghdad with the support of Shiite militias -, incidentally also the Iranians, have occupied Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu, where Kurds have been expelled en masse, including in the Nineveh Plain, near Mosul in the northwest, territories have been occupied. Even if the Shiite militias are not as radical as al Qaeda or the Islamic State, ultimately the Shiite militias also want to introduce Sharia and they also pose a long-term threat to the minorities, but also for the moderate Kurds. "

If Bundeswehr soldiers soon train Iraqi soldiers, will citizens in uniform with professional German workmanship help spread the Islamic revolution in the region - and assist in persecuting Christians, dissenters and minorities? Exactly the opposite is to be achieved with military aid, emphasizes SPD foreign policy expert Niels Annen.

"It also has a political message, so to speak: That we combine this with the expectation that these structures, the command structures, some of which actually depend on Iran, will be smashed. We know that this will not happen overnight. But on the one hand we want to signal to the Iraqi government, which has made progress under Mr al Abadi, the incumbent Prime Minister, that we are on your side, but at the same time we want to make this point clear that a mixture for the further development of Iraq is not beneficial and that we cannot support that either. "

Achieve political goals through military aid, ally with governments and influence groups whose views are not necessarily shared; but involve them through the resulting leverage in the interests of German and European interests. This was also the hope of the politicians who decided on the first Bundeswehr mandate for Iraq in 2014. The declared main goal of German politics was and still is one thing above all else: to preserve Iraq as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state. To protect the minorities, especially the Kurds, the Yazidis and the Christians.

"It is about emergency aid that serves to protect the life and limb of the refugees," says the motion for a resolution with which the German government first established the Bundeswehr mandate for Iraq in 2014.

"35,000 to 50,000 people, mostly Yazidis, fled to the Sinjar Mountains and were surrounded by IS fighters. Others who had stayed in their villages were murdered, mistreated, forcibly converted or sold in so-called slave markets. Many live a good three years later Yazidis are still in refugee camps, like in this walled tent city not far from Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region.

A child in a refugee camp near the Erbil region (picture alliance / dpa / Darek Delmanowicz)

The path leads past the post of the Kurdish Peshmerga, between hospital containers and toilet trucks to the tent in which Berkat and Hasim are housed with their families. They come from the ethnic group that, according to the motion for a resolution, the federal government wants to protect with its military aid to the Peshmerga. The name of the camp, they say, should not be published under any circumstances. Because, they explain, if the peshmerga overseers heard what they were saying, they would no longer be safe of their lives. Germany's allies in northern Iraq are indeed the ones who give them protection and shelter, but at the same time they are also the ones who have driven them away.

Doubtful behavior of the peshmerga?

They are showing a video that is supposed to show the start of this eviction in March 2017. Peshmerga then attack the Yazidis with German weapons. More precisely: The Yezidis militia Yeh Basha, which was founded for the self-defense of the religious minority in the Sinjar Mountains. Berkat and Hasim belong to the Yeh Basha. Both witnessed the attack.

"We had expressly informed the Peshmerga beforehand that they were not allowed to move further into our territory. Our population had therefore organized a demonstration. But on that day they attacked us with large-caliber weapons and armored vehicles."

The pictures show an armored personnel carrier of the Dingo type, as used by the German Armed Forces. On its roof: a heavy machine gun, operated from the inside at the push of a button. The pennant of the Kurdish autonomous region, a green-white-red tricolor with a yellow sun in the middle, flutters at the stern of the dingo made in Germany. Did the Peshmerga use vehicles supplied by Germany?

Armored vehicles of the type Dingo of the German Bundeswehr (dpa / picture alliance / Bettina Grachtrup)

"Yes, that was the vehicle we saw. Germany destroyed our lives."

What motive did the Peshmerga have to take action against a settlement area of ​​the Yazidis? For the two Yazidis Berkat and Hasim this is obvious. For them, this results from the fact that the Barzani clan ruling in and around Erbil is tied to Turkey through multiple interests.

"Above all, Barzani wants to help Turkey. Barzani and Turkey are one and the same. Every time after the then President of the Autonomous Region Barzani visited Turkey, he let us attack. With weapons from Germany."

Roderich Kiesewetter is a foreign policy official for the CDU. He is one of those who are most vehemently in favor of German military aid in Iraq. Also for the fact that the Peshmerga should continue to be trained. What does he say about the allegations that Germany's allies, the Peshmerga, attacked Germany's protectors, the Yazidis, with armored German dingo vehicles?

"A dingo is not a weapon, it is a truck, an armored, armored vehicle. However, it is a weapon carrier, we have to make that clear."

As such, according to the agreement reached with Germany, the Peshmerga are only allowed to use German weapons against IS, but not against the Yazidis or Yazidi militias.

"But I also think it makes sense if the Kurds, that is, the Peshmerga Kurds, have done this. After all, they have to live up to their responsibilities in a certain way."

What kind of responsibility could that be?

The CDU politician introduces a new point of view into the debate that goes beyond the protection of minorities and the preservation of Iraq as a whole. YPG fighters also took part in the battle in question on the part of the Yazidis. As an efficient ally against IS, it is armed by the USA, but it is a red rag for Ankara because it is the Syrian sister organization of the PKK. Turkey has been waging a civil war against the PKK for years.

"And this was about the fight against the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization in Germany and especially in Turkey. We have to admit that the Kurds kept certain rival forces in check."

Matthias Höhn (Die Linke) complains about German weapons in internal Iraqi conflicts

So far, the Yazidis have always been known to the public as victims. Are they something else from Roderich Kiesewetter's point of view? Allies of the PKK, an organization that is banned as a terrorist organization in Germany?

"The Yazidis are not a uniform group with uniform leadership and that sort of thing. And the PKK is very clever at exploiting the land there. It also uses its form of propaganda very cleverly. And we should be very careful there. "

According to the Left Party, such a view of things would have transformed Germany's original political approach in the region into something else. Left-wing foreign politician Matthias Höhn sees this as a prime example of the momentum that military aid can develop. For the uncontrollable chain reaction that can be triggered with weapons and trainers.

"I can only say that through the various media reports, including on social networks, in the last year, above all, we took notice of videos and photos several times, where obviously weapons that have been supplied by the federal government, German weapons, have been used in internal Iraqi conflicts, in conflicts between the Peshmerga and the Yazidis, if the weapons are converted now, so to speak, or the military equipment and training, if I may use the term to pursue other, further political and military goals , then it has nothing to do with the decisions of 2014. "

And Matthias Höhn goes one step further. It is possible, he says, that military aid in northern Iraq has actually achieved the exact opposite of what it was intended to achieve: namely, the division of Iraq was promoted.

"One can certainly ask whether, for example, Barzani, the Kurdish regional government, has not given itself some encouragement due to the military equipment and training that it has now enjoyed over the past few months and years, which of course has also strengthened it have been encouraged to even hold the referendum, which has been criticized by many quarters, and to escalate the conflict with the Iraqi central government. "

Roderich Kiesewetter:

"The Federal Republic of Germany has not supplied any heavy weapons. And you cannot defend yourself against the Iraqi central government and its armed forces with the few hand weapons - that is a few thousand - and the ammunition that the Federal Republic of Germany has supplied. You cannot use rifles Fight tanks and not ultimately fight the amount of battle tanks with the Milan. That is a few hundred Milan and a few thousand rounds of Milan, most of which have already been fired and no new ones are being delivered. "

"We warned the government in Erbil against calling a referendum on independence, but it was not our decision," said Niels Annen from the SPD. Germany's military aid to the Kurds was tied to a clear condition. And if a condition is not met, mandates can always be terminated.

"In the end we drew the conclusions from this when there was fighting between the central government and the Peshmerga. It is not acceptable for Germany that units are deployed there that have been trained by Germany or possibly even equipped militarily. And from that we also drew conclusions and that's why this program ends there in the north too. "

The Kurdish regional parliament in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. (AFP / SAFIN HAMED)

This time, too, the federal government made the condition of the training mandate unmistakably clear. "I think the clear formulation that we support the central armed forces but not Shiite militias is very well formulated and also sends an important political message."

But: can the regular forces be separated from the Shiite militias in practice? Both work very closely together, both have the same American equipment: US rifles, Abrams tanks and howitzers.

In the recaptured Mosul, a Sunni city, not far from the university. Two Iraqi soldiers of the Iraqi regular army patrol. They wear camouflage suits, NATO-style helmets, and US-made rifles.

Well, the cooperation with the Shiite militias works very well, says one of them. They work hand in hand. The militias are now organized like a real army: with tanks, artillery, i.e. the same equipment that the regulars use.

They are both Shiites, they say, but mostly they are Muslims. All cities belonged to the same country Iraq. All together defended Iraq against IS. We also defend Christians, Yazidis and Sunnis, they say. And if IS becomes a threat in Germany, then we are also ready for an assignment abroad.

An English lecturer from university first looks around at the two Iraqi soldiers. Only when they are out of reach does he say:

"We are very afraid of all these militias. And I fear that Iran is doing everything possible to get this part of the Nineveh province under control in order to expand its power more and more. Recently a prominent Shiite militia leader said: Ours." The future zone of influence will not be a Shiite crescent, but a Shiite full moon. "

The thing with the "end-use control"

In order to prevent misuse of the German training measures, explains Niels Annen, the new Bundeswehr mandate is initially limited to October.

"And that's why this mandate is initially aimed at a few months and then the federal government will certainly make a proposal as to whether the mandate should be extended, adjusted or possibly ended."

CDU foreign politician Kiesewetter admits that it is such a thing to control the final destination of military aid.

"The subject of end-use control - I have to say as a former soldier - it's very nice when you sign such papers. But in war it is not the paper that decides, but some local commander who may not have heard of end-use control at all."

And that should not only apply to arms deliveries, but also to the know-how that military training provides.