A transport plane in Germany is loaded with relief aid for Kurdistan last week. Photo: AP
LONDON – Germany said Wednesday it is prepared to send arms to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters against the war on Islamic militants.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the announcement after a Cabinet meeting in Berlin.
Earlier this week, Stenmeier said in an interview with German ZDF radio that Berlin had a shared responsibility to support Kurds against their war on the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS/ISIS).
“We cannot on the one hand praise the Kurdish security forces, pat them on the back for fighting ISIS on behalf of all of us, then when they ask for help just say ‘see how you get on’.”
"Imagine (the Kurds) continue their fight and then perhaps in two or four weeks they run out of munitions, which is a possibility many people in northern Iraq made clear to me, and then we are not there to give them the chance to continue their fight," said Steinmeier
"There are some situations in which by failing to do something you make yourself as guilty as if you had done something," he pointed out, adding that, “We have to give Kurds the opportunity to defend themselves”
Steinmeier also said that “Europe can’t be indifferent to the IS advance.”
German laws prohibit arms exports to conflict zones, but exceptions are made when Germany’s own foreign nationals or their security interests are at risk.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a press release that "We are in principle ready to provide weapons and munitions.”
She said Berlin will begin with non-lethal military equipment, such as helmets and night-vision goggles.
Kurdish officials have repeatedly asked for military support from European countries in their war against IS.
The United States has already stepped air strikes against IS forces in support of the Peshmerga, and other European countries are either delivering weapons or discussing the possibility.
The Kurdish Peshmerga remain the only reliable military force in Iraq, after the Iraqi army collapsed against an advance by IS jihadists that began in June.
The US and France have delivered arms to the Kurdish forces, and the European Union has said it will consider doing the same. Other countries, like Britain and Canada, are involved in facilitating humanitarian relief.