BERLIN: The leader of Iraq’s Kurds appealed to Germany for weapons to help Kurdish fighters battling militants of the Islamic State, and said foreign powers must find a way to cut off the group’s funding.
Germany has shied away from direct involvement in military conflicts for much of the post-war era and a survey conducted for Bild am Sonntag newspaper indicated that almost three quarters of Germans were against shipping weapons to the Kurds.
But Germany’s defence minister has said the government was looking into the possibility of delivering military hardware.
Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, said the Kurds needed more than the humanitarian aid that Germany began sending on Friday to support people forced to flee their homes by the Sunni militant group’s advance.
“We also expect Germany to deliver weapons and ammunition to our army so that we can fight back against the IS terrorists,” Barzani told German magazine Focus. He said they needed German training and what they lacked most were anti-tank weapons.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen sought to temper Kurdish expectations, saying that forces in Iraq were trained on Soviet-designed weapons that Germany did not have and could not deliver.
But Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier held out the possibility of sending more than humanitarian help. Speaking in Arbil, Steinmeier said Germany would provide more than ¤24m worth of humanitarian aid and added his visit was intended as “a signal of support and that you won’t be left alone in this difficult situation”.