Friday, April 3, 2020

Fight against IS and Corona (neues-deutschland.de)

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The Bundestag has approved a change mandate for the deployment of German soldiers in the coalition against the Islamic State (IS). The Union, SPD and FDP spoke in favor of this on Wednesday. AfD, Left and Greens rejected the proposal.

After the end of aerial reconnaissance over Syria and Iraq, which had previously also been carried out by German “tornadoes”, A-400-M aircraft of the German Armed Forces are now supposed to refuel the fighter jets of other coalition nations from the Jordanian base Al-Azraq. In addition, transporters of this type will be available for flights to Iraq. The planned use of an airspace surveillance radar in Iraq is also new.

Aerial reconnaissance was supposed to be continued by Italian pilots, but given the immense corona problems in Italy, there is currently no final commitment from the government in Rome. The CDU defense politician Henning Otte therefore spoke out against the termination of the German tornado flights. Relieving Italy is “also a question of European solidarity”. According to the internal Bundeswehr balance sheet, there were 2,447 tornado reconnaissance flights by mid-March. A-310 and A-400-M machines were used for 6554 air refueling.

The training of Iraqi security forces by the Bundeswehr in central Iraqi Taji – which is currently suspended due to the corona pandemic – will no longer be subject to the coalition operation “Inherent Resolve”, but to NATO. How this mission will continue is uncertain, because a large number of the German soldiers stationed there had been flown to Erbil in northern Iraq last week. The 140-man Bundeswehr contingent used there to train Kurdish associations is also to be reduced this week.

In Iraq, two things are of particular concern to the international anti-IS coalition. First, there is the Corana pandemic. According to official information, almost 350 people have been infected with the virus so far, at least 29 have died. The government in Baghdad has just extended a nationwide curfew.

However, the current threat situation seems even more problematic. Since the Iraqi armed forces in Taji have been fired on several times in the past few weeks and are also used by foreign forces, the Bundeswehr has changed the assessment of the threat from “significant” to “high”. According to the military’s internal assessments, the security situation in Erbil is “largely controllable” and that in Baghdad is “sufficiently controllable”. The situation had worsened after the killing of the militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by a US drone deployment. A power vacuum had thus developed within the predominantly Shiite people’s mobilization units. IS had also been able to expand its freedom of movement again.

All of this complicates the urgent formation of a new government. The head of the faction of the Nasr Alliance, Adnan Al-Zurfi, is responsible for this. He still has until April 15 to organize an absolute majority in parliament. Commentary on page 8

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