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Europe working for de‑escalation in the Middle East

View of Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq

View of Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, © dpa

07.01.2020 - Article

The tensions between the United States and Iran are endangering Iraq’s stability and unity and the fight against IS. Foreign Minister Maas and his European colleagues are committed to working for de‑escalation.

Threat of escalation between Iran and the United States

Following a number of attacks on US and international troop presences in Iraq by Iran and by militias supported by Iran and the US killing in Baghdad of General Qasem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the conflict between the United States and Iran is escalating, with as yet unforeseeable consequences. Foreign Minister Maas warned:

The last thing that any of us would want is a conflagration in the Near and Middle East, as this will significantly alter the security situation in Europe, and not for the better.

Creating space for de‑escalation

Foreign Minister Maas firmly believes that the Europeans, who have open, functioning channels of communication with all sides, can and must work intensively together for de‑escalation. For new confrontations in the Near and Middle East would have direct implications for European security interests.

European diplomatic efforts are in full swing: Foreign Minister Maas met his British and French counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday. As the E3, signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, they are particularly involved and have channels of communication with Iran. The European Foreign Ministers will meet for a special EU Council meeting on Friday under the chairmanship of EU High Representative Borrell to discuss the situation in Iraq.

Continuing the fight against IS

The tensions are also endangering stability in Iraq as well as the fight against the terrorist organisation “Islamic State” (IS). The German Government is concerned that Iraq’s unity and stability might fall victim to a proxy war between the United States and Iran. Because the resurgence of IS would have repercussions for security in Germany and Europe.

The Iraqi Government has not yet decided whether to follow the Iraqi parliament’s recommendation to order foreign soldiers to leave Iraq. Along with the Global Coalition against Daesh partners, Germany helped to successfully counter IS, both militarily and through large-scale civilian engagement towards the stabilisation of Iraq. Since 2014, Germany has supported the Iraqi Government by making available 236 million euros for stabilisation and reconstruction in the areas liberated from IS.

The German Government is ready to continue this support if Iraq so wishes and if the security situation permits. With regard to what happens next, the German Government is in intensive talks with its partners in NATO’s North Atlantic Council, in the EU, in the Global Coalition against Daesh and above all with its contacts in Iraq.

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