Germany responded to growing security concerns in the Gulf region, saying it plans to “temporarily thin out” the number of soldiers in Iraq.
Its military presence will be reduced particularly in Baghdad and Taji.
Germany will reduce the number of its troops stationed in Iraq due to growing regional security concerns, according to two of the country’s top lawmakers.
The German military contingent in the country will be “temporarily thinned out,” with around 30 out of the 130 personnel serving in the country to be redeployed to neighboring countries, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a letter to their ministries.
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The transfer will mainly apply to soldiers stationed in Iraq’s capital Baghdad and Taji, to the north. Soldiers in these areas are set to be moved to Jordan and Kuwait.
Iraq’s parliament voted for anti-IS coalition soldiers to leave the country following the fatal drone attack on Qassem Soleimani.
Currently, the German Bundeswehr supports regional efforts against Islamic State in Iraq, providing military training, Tornado reconnaissance jets and tanker aircraft for air-to-air refueling. Most of Germany’s soldiers in Iraq are stationed in the northern Kurdish region of the country.
“Naturally we will respect any sovereign decision of the Iraqi government,” said Maas, while warning that the reduction of international forces could lead to Islamic State gaining a stronger foothold in the region and cause “greater instability” in Iraq.
Why is Germany reducing troop numbers?
DW political correspondent Thomas Sparrow said one reason that Germany was reducing troop numbers was “security, the security of German soldiers, similar to what NATO has already done as well.”
The fear is that some soldiers being trained by German troops have sympathies with Iranian and Iraqi militias and could turn the weapons on the service personnel training them.
Sparrow said another reason is that the German government has removed them, awaiting a final decision by the Iraqi government on foreign coalition forces fighting IS in Iraq.
The redeployment is intended only as a temporary measure, with the letter from Maas and Kramp-Karrenbauer saying “in principle, we are prepared to continue providing our proven support within an internationally coordinated framework as long as this is something that Iraq wants and is in the situation to permit it.”
“When the training is able to resume, the military personnel can be reinstated,” added the ministers.
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