ERBIL, Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – Following his visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, German Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel reportedly said Germany would not send new arms shipments to the Kurdistan Region in its fight against the Islamic State (IS) nor would it expand training.
While praising the Peshmerga’s efforts against IS in a press conference with Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, Gabriel emphasized the fight will not be won by military means alone.
Gabriel added the quality of life for the people of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region must be improved, claiming it “is the best way to fight life-despising ideologies.”
Speaking to Kurdistan24 via phone, Brigadier General Hazhar Omer, the Director of Coordination and Relations for the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, denied reports claiming Germany stopped its military assistance to the Peshmerga forces.
Omer added German military assistance and training of the Peshmerga forces would continue, adding the reports are only propaganda against the Peshmerga.
Kurdistan24 contacted Halgurd Hikmat, the spokesperson of the Peshmerga Ministry, who also denied the claims.
He stated Germany’s advisors are currently training the Peshmerga forces near Erbil and will continue its military assistance to the Kurdish forces.
The Peshmerga spokesperson said the decision to arm the Peshmerga forces was approved by the German Parliament and any decisions to stop Germany’s military assistance would go through parliament.
Although President Barzani thanked Gabriel for Germany’s support, he said the equipment had not been enough for the operation to retake Mosul from IS.
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Peshmerga provided the German government with a list of required military equipment for the Kurdish forces, according to an official.
On Sunday, Secretary General of the Peshmerga Ministry Jabar Yawar told Kurdistan24 it is customary to offer a list to visiting foreign delegates, which includes various types of equipment such as anti-tank weapons.
He noted German military officials acknowledged the required weapons during a visit to the Region’s front lines.
Currently, roughly 140 German soldiers training Peshmerga forces are stationed in Erbil. Peshmerga forces have received a significant number of German weapons, including 20,000 assault rifles, 400 rocket-propelled grenades, and 1,200 anti-tank missiles.
In March, the German Parliament expressed concerns over the alleged use of German weapons in internal Kurdish conflicts including Syrian and Turkish Kurdish factions.
The German Foreign Minister’s official visit also aimed to help Iraq remain united and not split into separate states.
Regarding tensions between Erbil and Baghdad related to Kurdistan’s independence referendum, Gabriel was restrained, saying negotiations over the region’s status was an “internal Iraqi matter.”
In response, President Barzani reiterated “any decision taken by the people will be discussed with Baghdad [through] peaceful dialogue.”
Until recently, the German military had confined itself to aiding Peshmerga forces in the north but sent its first Bundeswehr instructor to Baghdad in January to advise the Iraqi army.
It has also supplied non-lethal equipment to Iraq’s central government.
In contrast, the US State Department recently approved a request from the Iraqi government to sell military equipment worth $295.6 million for Peshmerga forces.
The possible “Foreign Military Sale” aims to outfit two Peshmerga infantry brigades and two artillery battalions, providing them with needed equipment.
Reporting by G. H. Renaud and Baxtiyar Goran
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany