German trainers at a training site in Erbil in March, 2017. Germany started to train the Kurdish fighters since February 2015 as part of the US-led Global Coalition against the ISIS group. File photo: Rudaw/Farzin Hassan
BERLIN, Germany – Germany’s parliament on Tuesday voted to continue training Peshmerga through to April 2018, allocating 6.9 million euros funding for the program.
Up to 150 German soldiers will continue to train the Kurdish forces in Erbil.
Niels Annen from the Socialist Democratic Party (SPD) stated that training and arming the Peshmerga is “a difficult mandate in a very complex security environment,” adding that the training program has been a success in the war against ISIS.
He stressed that Germany must make clear that its support for the Peshmerga should not be used to jeopardize the territorial integrity of Iraq.
Deadly clashes, triggered by Kurdistan’s independence vote, erupted between Iraqi and Kurdish security forces in disputed areas in October.
Germany briefly suspended its training program citing fears of sending a signal that it supports one side over the other.
Dr. Johann Wadephul from the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) called the decision to arm and train the Peshmerga “wise” as it contributed to peace in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. He said the mission is not over, despite the Iraqi announcement of the end of the ISIS war, and it is important that Germany stay active in this regard.
Other MPs who rejected the motion cited fears that it could push Germany to become part of the problems between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments.
The German parliament must reauthorize troop deployments yearly. In tabling the motion on the Peshmerga mandate, the government stated they support dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve their differences. It warned that Berlin, in coordination with its international partners, will immediately suspend the training program if new hostiles erupt.
In early November, Germany’s outgoing foreign minister appealed to his country’s parliament to extend its mission training the Peshmerga, arguing that international presence in the country would help prevent a civil war.
Germany has trained more than 16,000 Kurdish soldiers since February 2015.
Up to 150 German soldiers will be based at the international anti-ISIS Combined Joint Operations Command Center, where they have worked with Iraqi and Kurdish commanders, in addition to Peshmerga units through the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTTC).
A ceasefire has been in place between the Kurdish and Iraqi forces since the end of October, but Kurdistan’s National Security Advisor Masrour Barzani told German Ambassador to Iraq Dr. Cyrill Nunn on Monday of “frontline reporting in recent days indicating Iraq has not yet ruled out military options to settle political disputes.”
The October clashes erupted when Iraqi forces took over the disputed areas following Kurdistan’s independence vote.
Baghdad has not yet committed to talks, despite concessions from Erbil.
Germany is a member of the US-led anti-ISIS Global Coalition.