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Germany to arm Iraq - what's changed?

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 02:01

Germany ends a postwar tradition and decides to send weapons to Iraq's Kurds fighting Islamic State militants, joining Britain, France and Italy. It comes after IS posted a video purporting to show the beheading of an American journalist. Germany's foreign and defence ministers say Europe cannot simply stand by in the face of IS. Joanna Partridge reports

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Breaking a tradition that's been in place since the Second World War. Germany is prepared to send arms to Iraq, says Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. SOUNDBITE: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, saying (German): "We know about the risks connected with sending weapons, they are obvious, and so we will show moderation with regards to the type and quantity of the shipments." Military equipment like helmets and security vests will be sent immediately to the Iraqi Kurdish security forces fighting Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. It follows humanitarian aid - inspected by the Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen last week. But Germany's shied away from direct involvement in military conflicts since World War Two due to its Nazi past. It joins Britain, France and Italy in providing Iraq's Kurds with arms. Germany's the world's third-biggest arms exporter after the U.S and Russia, and had previously promised to reduce shipments to states who aren't allies. Steinmeier visited Iraq earlier this month. Like his European counterparts he's made it clear the region doesn't intend to stand by when faced with the threat from Islamic State. Outrage at the beheading of American journalist James Foley, is also increasing western nations' resolve. Jeremy Batstone-Carr is from Charles Stanley. SOUNDBITE: Jeremy Batstone-Carr, Director Private Client Research, Charles Stanley, saying (English): "There is growing alarm around the world in relation to the Islamic State and their intentions and this will in due course result in some form of unified action. What that action proves to be remains very much to be seen. But I do sense that there is a coalescing of views around the sense that something needs to be done." Despite this, the United States is unlikely to deepen its military involvement in Iraq beyond the current air strikes, and European countries are also reticent. While Europe's governments are concerned about the growing threat from IS, they know public opinion is mostly against foreign military intervention.

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Germany to arm Iraq - what's changed?

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 02:01