ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The German military announced on Wednesday that it had suspended all training operations in Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region due to tensions arising from the current Iran crisis, Germany’s DPA news agency reported.
The move affects not only the European nation's mission in cooperation with federal Iraqi security forces but also those involving Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Secretary-General of the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga Ministry Jabar Yawar told Kurdistan 24.
Additionally, Yawar mentioned that US troops and military advisers in Iraq had also suspended their training operations for an unknown period, but that has not yet been confirmed by American officials.
Earlier on Wednesday, the US State Department ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees from its embassy in Baghdad and consulate-general in Erbil, as well as the suspension of normal visa services.
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iraq,” a statement read.
Germany is one of the key members of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State. Over the past few years, the country has provided extensive military and humanitarian aid to the Kurdistan Region, with its foreign and defense ministers visiting Erbil on multiple occasions.
In total, the German military has 160 troops on the ground in Iraq, with 60 of them stationed in the Taji Camp training members of the Iraqi army, while the other 100 are based in Erbil and provide military training to Peshmerga forces.
In April, a newly constructed and now fully-staffed Peshmerga Hospital in Erbil opened, the result of an initiative funded by Germany at a cost of about $5 million.
Earlier in December, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced it had contributed an additional €22 million (roughly $25 million) to a UN program that finances “fast-track initiatives” in Iraq in areas liberated from the Islamic State, bringing the ministry’s total support of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to €209.9 million (nearly $235 million).
Elsewhere, Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported that the Dutch mission in Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, has been suspended due to a security threat.
A Dutch defense spokesperson, however, did not specify what the threat was. The decision was taken by an Italian commander of the international coalition, according to reports. Currently, Italians lead the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC) that is made up of instructors from nine countries: Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Sweden.
Moreover, 50 Dutch soldiers are training Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Camp Stephan in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil for the war against the Islamic State. The Defense spokesperson said there is no decision yet to pull Dutch troops from Iraq.
Editing by John J. Catherine