Berlin—Germany will continue to arm and train the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The German Defense Ministry announced its intent to restart the weapons program. The program was unexpectedly halted last week over Iraqi-Kurdish tensions in Kirkuk following the Kurdish Referendum.
Iraqi officials claimed that German-provided MILAN anti-tank missiles destroyed two Iraqi M1 Abrams.
“We had agreed last Friday with the foreign office to pause the training so no wrong signal would be sent,” said German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
But Peshmerga officers asserted that the agreement to utilize German weapons only against ISIS remained true.
And Germany seems convinced.
“We do not have any reason to doubt that these agreements are being violated,” responded the German Defense Ministry.
Since 2014, the German Bundeswehr has been training and equipping the Kurds for their struggle against ISIS. Weapons provided include G3 and G36 assault rifles, MG3 light machine guns, and MILAN anti-tank launchers with a plentiful supply of ammunition. Over 100 armoured vehicles have also been shipped. The materiel’s worth is estimated at around $105 million.
Moreover, close to 200 German soldiers are present in northern Iraq to train Kurdish Peshmerga, and Kurds have received training in Germany.
Also, the German government donated to the Kurds around $6 million to build a 200-bed hospital in Erbil, the capital for the Peshmerga.
This wasn’t the first time Germany halted its weapons program to the Kurds. In August 2016, the program had again been stopped, this time over sales of German weapons on the black market by Kurdish officers.
The German Parliament will reevaluate the Bundeswehr’s training and advising mission in 2018.