German, Dutch soldiers likely to resume training missions in Iraq soon – reports

Germany wants to quickly resume its military training mission in Iraq by Monday and the Netherlands will likely resume its training program this weekend, the government officials in each country have told media.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld and Foreign Affairs Minister Stef Blok told the Lower House of Representatives in a letter that they “expect” to “resume” the training of soldiers in Iraq, the Dutch daily De Telegraaf published on Thursday.

“The government as always keeps a close watch on the situation and continuously assesses whether the training provided by the Dutch military is safe. The safety of our people is above everything else,” the ministers said.

The Netherlands maintains a few soldiers in Baghdad and more than 50 in Erbil as part of the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Its military like Germany’s, as part of NATO, also works with that training mission for Iraqi Security Forces, including the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga.

Germany announced it was suspending its training mission for Iraqi and Peshmerga soldiers on Wednesday, citing a “crisis” between the United States and Iran in the country. The Netherlands cited similar reasons for suspending its training on the same day.

Die Zeit, a German newspaper, reported on Thursday that the Defense Ministry in Berlin was re-evaluating the security situation in Iraq in coordination with coalition partners and unnamed ministry officials want to quickly resume their military training mission.

It added that Germany’s military should restart its training mission this weekend or by Monday.

Germany has about 100 soldiers in Erbil and 60 more in Taji, north of Baghdad.

While the United States chose to pull non-essential government employees from its consulate in Erbil and embassy in Baghdad, neither European nation opted for that route.

The German consulate in Erbil tweeted on Thursday: “GermanyInKRI is continuing the Consulate’s regular business. Regarding the Bundeswehr, the Ministry of Defense spokesman clarified that the Bundeswehr has not left Iraq. They are merely staying inside the camp because of Coalition forces security advice.”

While Deputy Head of Mission for the Netherlands in Iraq Eric Stratling tweeted on the same day: “Contrary to media reports, the Dutch Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate-General in Erbil are not evacuating. Also, the Dutch trainers of the anti-ISIS coalition are just complying with increased security measures by the coalition leadership and will resume training asap.”

Peshmerga Chief of Staff Jabar Yawar said on Friday the Kurdish forces would welcome the return of “many types of training including for urban warfare and demining.”

“We have benefited from them a lot,” he told Rudaw English. “They are more experienced. They have experienced trainers in all sectors of warfare.”

The world is not safe from ISIS extremism, Yawar explained: “Daesh is a threat still to all over the world, not just Kurdistan. Daesh persists as a terrorist group in the world.” Source