Bundeswehr mission in Iraq: withdrawal or re-engagement of Germany and Europe after a phase of strategic consolidation?

The SPD and the Greens are calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Bundeswehr mission from Iraq, most of the CDU / CSU are against it.

Does Germany and Europe increasingly want to stay out of the Greater Middle East or like AKK should become more active? Do you have any significant influence in the case of Iraq? The official legitimation of the Bundeswehr mission in Iraq is to support the anti-IS coalition and to stabilize or at least make a contribution to the stabilization of the Iraqi military and Iraq or has Germany has already written off the vision of a pro-Western or neutral Iraq or a stable Iraq and let Iraq now sink to the pro-Iranian colony? As Trump has claimed that the Islamic State is defeated, part of this legitimation is gone.
The foreign military in Iraq is increasingly perceived as part of the escalating conflict between the United States and Iran, whose battlefield and venue is increasingly Iraq. Would a withdraw perceived as a political symbol that Germans and Europeans or the West will always run away in the emergence of a potential threat and are cowards or will it be perceived as a wise real politician or even anti-imperialist decision? Probably the German or European engagements would be perceived under its political, economic and military position in the event of a US-Iran war, but radical extremists might interpret this differently and more ideologically.

And in the case of Iraq: Whom are the 150 Bundeswehr military trainers training in Iraq? Foot soldiers or do they have access to the Iraqi officer corps, which could possibly be an important factor in the coming balance of power if they don’t start a military coup? Do you only train reliable, non-Islamist and anti-Iranian or neutral forces or do you not also strengthen your opponent, especially since the pro-Iranian militias are supposed to be integrated into the Iraqi armed forces or are already in part. Isn’t there a situation similar to that of the Chinese Whampoo Academy, where the KMT and KP military were trained at the same time? Especially since there are enough historical examples that military personnel trained by the West or the USA are switching to the opposite side, such as Mengistu Haile Miriam in Ethiopia (a US military adviser who trained him at the time was my mother’s girlfriend’s American husband), and so too the reverse cases exist such as Sadat, Egypt and Camp David.

The question arises: Can the Bundeswehr training mission bring a positive development of Iraqi military and political forces in the interest of Germany and Europe or even the West, or is this a more symbolic goodwill policy that is more related to diplomacy? Conversely, wouldn’t there be a danger if Germany interferes too much in Iraq,this is seen in a similar way to the interference of the United States, or is it even equated with US interests?

The fact that Bundeswehr troops could be targets of possible attacks or kidnapping is not an argument at first, it is also part of the occupational risk. There is also the question of withdrawal and if Iraq should stabilize of a return. But the anti-Iranian democratic forces can recognize real friends especially in times of crisis and need, that is, the question of whether a German withdrawal is not perceived like the USA which were not a reliable ally of the Kurds.

The mood among the German population is likely to be strong on the part of the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party, as there are fears that they will be drawn into foreign policy adventurers and a new Gulf War, as Trump is considered the bad guy, the experiences of the Iraq war in 2003 are still having an impact and it is unclear is whether the argument that one has to fight the causes of flight and refugee waves does work here even with more independent European military means which rely more on the UNO and not the USA. In addition, Germany can certainly not go it alone, but the reactions to AKK’s proposal for a security zone in northern Syria or the failure to establish a European military mission to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf show how little this is currently desired – despite all the Sunday speeches that Europe should play a more independent role. It remains to be seen how the UK and France will position themselves. Especially since the question is whether a candidate for chancellor would have any prospect of success in the upcoming election campaign in 2021, who is suspected of wanting to involve Germany in foreign policy adventures.

The question is also what interests Germany and Europe actually have in the Greater Middle East.

1) Energy – the EU and especially Germany hve made itself largely independent of the oil and gas of this region since 1973, especially since Germany does not have its own oil multinationals like the 7 sisters beyond BASF / Wintershall and is only marginally represented there. The reorientation has more led to an interdependency with Russia, especially since the USA has become an oil and gas exporter since the fracking boom, it is no longer as dependent on the region in terms of energy and carbon which are increasingly being replaced by renewable energies. But the North Sea oil of Great Britain and Norway will dry up in the foreseeable future and then the question arises whether one wants to become even more dependent on Russia or on US LNG, , Egypt’s LNG or the pipeline Eastmed now decided between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, Qatar or other suppliers from the MENA region, especially since the fracking boom in the United States could dry up, but conversely, new huge oil fields were discovered in Texas, Venezuela and Guyana.

2) Refugee flows. An important argument. But isn’t it possible to aggravate this situation through military intervention, that the supposed stabilizing effect of which could also produce the opposite? Especially since the USA with the exception of Iran is withdrawing from the Greater Middle East and such UN security zones could be quite fragile and not very robust.

3) The southern flank of NATO, the Suez Canal, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean region. Russia, Turkey and Iran could gain important military bases and areas of political influence that could also be used against the West in the medium and long term in the event of a crisis or war. Probably the most important argument, also with regard to the transition phase to a more multicentric or multipolar world, in which it represents an important region in Russia and China’s redistribution of the world.

4) The security of Israel. Verbally, according to Merkel, Israel’s security is part of the German raison d´etat, but there are different policy approaches in matters of Iran, Palestine and the MENA region, and Germany would never be able to intervene militarily on the part of Israel, especially since Israel can defend itself better. Nevertheless, possible attacks of Iran and its proxies such as Hezbollah on Israel could make the Holocaust and Hitler arguments quite effective.

Also, the question is whether the West, which is questioned by Trump, is not militarily holding back from the Greater Middle East, perhaps supporting training missions and supporting and equipping proxy forces, waiting until the other powers have let off steam and after this strategic withdrawal, patiently waiting for a re-engagement after event of a clarified balance of power or at the event of a foreseeable new balance of power or looming decision phase could be an alternative. Strategic patient waiting while consolidating the EU after the Brexit and the results of the US election and after this reconsolidation, a possible re-engagement might be the better option. The question will be if the USA under Trump in the event of a war with Iran let the EU a reconsolidation phase or splits it in the new and old Europe like during the Iraqi war 2003, is even threatening in the worst case with the dissolution of NATO or other measures or if the Europeans stay united.

Über Ralf Ostner

Ralf Ostner geboren 1964 in Frankfurt am Main, 1984 Abitur in Bayern--Leitungskurse: Physik und Kunst/ Schülerzeitung. Studium der Physik (Nebenfächer: Mathematik, Chemie), Wirtschaftsgeographie (Nebenfächer: BWL, VWL) und Studium der Sinologie. 1991 Abschluss als staatlich geprüfter Übersetzer in der englischen und chinesischen Sprache am Sprachen- und Dolmetscher-Institut/München (Leiter der Chinesisch-Abteilung: Herr Zhang, ehemaliger Dolmetscher von Deng Xiaoping und Franz-Josef Strauß).Danach 5 Jahre Asienaufenthalt: China, Indien, Südostasien (u.a. in Kambodscha während des ersten Auslandseinsatzes der Bundeswehr, Interviews mit Auslandschinesen, Recherche im Karen-Guerillagebiet in Burma, Unterstützung einer UNO-Mitarbeiterin während den Aufständen in Nepal und bei UNO-Arbeit in Indien), Australien. Danach 5 Jahre als Dolmetscher, Delegationsbegleiter und Übersetzer in München. Abendstudium an der Hochschule für Politik /München (Schwerpunkt: Internationale Beziehungen). Abschluss als Diplom-Politologe (Diplomarbeit: Die deutsch-chinesischen Beziehungen 1989-2000 unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der SPD-Grünen-Regierung). Delegationsbegleitung von Hu Ping, Chefredakteur der chinesischen Dissidentenzeitung "Pekinger Frühling" (New York)und prominentester Vertreter eines chinesischen Liberalismus bei seiner Deutschlandtour (Uni München, Uni Mainz, Berlin/FU-Humboldt) bei gleichzeitigem Kontakt mit Liu Liqun (Autor des Buches "Westliches Denken transzendieren"/ heute: Deutschlandberater der chinesischen Regierung).Chefredakteur der Studentenzeitschrift UNIPOL . Projekte am Goethe-Institut und bei FOCUS TV. Seit 2000 Übersetzer (chinesisch-deutsch), Graphiker, freier Schriftsteller und Blogger.
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