German FM refuses to rule out arms delivery to Iraq Asked if support to northern Iraq involves arms, says 'We need to clarify, what the Kurds and Iraqis, need and what they can really use.'

BERLIN (AA) – Germany’s foreign minister refused to rule out arming northern Iraq with munitions in an interview Sunday, saying: “We are looking at what is possible and what is necessary.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that it is important that the European Union support the displaced, provides shelter and helps them defend themselves against the Islamic State.

But asked if that support involved supporting those in northern Iraq with military arms, Steinmeier said, “At first, we need to clarify, what the Kurds and Iraqis, who have arms from the former Eastern Bloc and the U.S., need and what they can really use.”

He added that neither had time to be trained in how to use new western weapons systems.

The Islamic State has been in control of vast swaths of northeastern Syria and western and north Iraq since June. Since its advance through the territories, some reported 1.5 million people have been displaced.

Steinmeier noted that the “Islamic State” wants to pursue “terror” worldwide, and underlined that it is in Europe’s interest that its advance is stopped.

“We will succeed if the political leaders in Baghdad and Erbil mobilize their forces and get support from the international community,” he added.

With regard to an independent Kurdish state in an area of northern Iraq already considered an autonomous region, Steinmeier said that it would cause instability “and continue to destabilize the region and cause new tensions, possibly also in neighboring countries.”

Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish administration, told the same newspaper that it was awaiting more effective weapons to combat the Islamic State, not only from the United States but also from other allies such as Germany.

He underlined that it had never asked for a foreign military presence, just for enough effective weapons to defeat the Islamic State, adding that they would be glad for any training in any modern arms it received.

Meanwhile, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday that a survey had shown that 74 percent of Germans were not in favor of the country supplying arms to the Iraqi Kurds, while only 22 percent supported the effort.

It added that 81 percent of those surveyed were also against sending German troops to the region, while only 16 percent were in support.

 

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