Tobias Zech visits Baghdad, Erbil and Sinjar

CSU-parliamentarian learns about the challenges in Iraq

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From 5 to 10 April, the KAS Syria/Iraq office hosted CSU-parliamentarian Tobias Zech in Baghdad and in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Besides political talks in Baghdad and Erbil, the programme also included a visit of the city of Sinjar in Northern Iraq. Sinjar was captured by the so-called Islamic State (IS) in 2014 and was liberated in late 2015. Zech was one of the first German politicians to visit the completely destroyed Yezidi city since its liberation.

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Tobias Zech and Nils Wörmer, head of the Syria/Iraq office, together with Safa Hussein al-Sheikh, Deputy National Security Advisor, and Ali Nasser, Head of the al-Nahrain Center

The two-day visit in Baghdad included talks to the security and political challenges in Iraq. Tobias Zech therefore met with Safa Hussein al-Sheikh, Deputy National Security Advisor.

Tobias Zech sits on the Developmental Aid Committee of the German Bundestag. He is the first German parliamentarian that KAS has hosted in Baghdad. The two-day visit in the Iraqi capital included talks on the political and security challenges in Iraq with Safa Hussein al-Sheikh, Deputy National Security Advisor, and Adnan al-Assadi, Member of the Defence Committee in the Iraqi parliament. Moreover, Zech discussed the future of German-Iraqi relations with Hanan al-Fatlawi, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Iraqi parliament, and Mudher Salih, advisor in the Prime Minister’s office. The German parliamentarian also spoke at a workshop at the al-Bayan Center on the consequences of Brexit on Europe and European foreign policy.

In Erbil, Zech held talks with Karim Sinjari, Minister of Interior and acting Minister of Peschmerga, Ali Sindi, Minister of Planning, and Kurdish parliamentarians on the future role of the KRI in Iraq. An important topic addressed during this visit was the future of the ethno-sectarian minorities in Iraq, particularly the Yezidis, who have since 2014 become a victim of genocide committed by the IS. Zech therefore visited the Yezidi city of Sinjar and the Sharia IDP camp, which mainly hosts Yezidi refugees. Moreover, he learned about the situation of Christians in Iraq during talks with the Chaldean patriarch Raffael Sako and Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf, archbishop of the Syrian-Orthodox Church in Mosul, as well as during a visit to the NGO Nisha in the Christian town of Alqosh.

Another focus of the visit to Iraq was the future of German political, military and humanitarian support for the country. The parliamentarian therefore held talks with Oliver Schnakenberg, Deputy German Ambassador in Iraq, Christopher Burger, Deputy Consul General in Erbil, representatives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the GIZ as well as officers from the Federal Armed Forces. The programme also included a visit to the German army training mission in Erbil.

With regard to the security situation in Iraq, Zech voiced his concerns and stressed the necessity for a long-term German engagement in Iraq: “During my talks with ministers, parliamentarians, representatives of the Christian community and with IDPs, I quickly realised that the stabilisation of the fragile security situation in Iraq is of utmost priority. However, the political and humanitarian situation also necessitates more German support. The German engagement in Iraq thereby needs to fit the new challenges the country is facing today. We believe in the unity of Iraq. It is therefore important to expand German support even more than today to all parts of Iraq.”

Tobias Zech was the second member of parliament that KAS hosted in Iraq in 2017. Previously, KAS welcomed Roderich Kiesewetter, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, in the KRI in March. In January, the foundation hosted a delegation of seven Iraqi government officials, parliamentarians and representatives of the civil society from Baghdad for political talks in Berlin. With this dialogue programme, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung aims to contribute to strengthening German-Iraqi relations. The Syria/Iraq Office has implemented projects in all parts of Iraq – among others in Basra, Karbala, Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk – and works towards strengthening the rule of law, societal reconciliation, minority rights as well as the reintegration of IDPs and refugees.

Authors

Nils Wörmer, Lucas Lamberty

Publication series

Event Reports

published

Lebanon, April 12, 2017