The new Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer informs the Bundeswehr soldiers in Iraq about the anti-IS operation. The mandate extension she requested is her first test.
By Nina Barth, ARD-Hauptstadtstudio, c. Baghdad
45 degrees in the shade, during the car journeys Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and her companions have to wear 10 kilo-heavy jackets. The external circumstances in Baghdad are tiring. Kramp-Karrenbauer shows nothing, completes appointment by appointment. There is great interest in the new Minister of Defense, with clicks from many cameras that accompanied her on her first visit to the troops. Photos of the new defense minister appear in front of a tornado in Jordan or surrounded by German soldiers near Baghdad.
Of course, Kramp-Karrenbauer, the potential candidate for future chancellor, knows that many see her fighting as the new defense minister. How does it feel to visit the army for the first time as a minister of defense?
It gives us a bit of an idea of the circumstances under which our soldiers serve, which makes it clear to me that they deserve more recognition for this service, for example. "
Mandate until the end of October
Kramp-Karrenbauer talks to the soldiers – not just when the cameras are on. She looks genuinely interested and at the same time very approachable, alienated. But it can soon be over with the Bundeswehr soldiers in Iraq and Jordan. Participation in the anti-IS operation is alert. The mandate expires at the end of October. Large parts of the SPD do not want to expand it. From the perspective of Kramp-Karrenbauer that would be a mistake:
"We are now at a point where it will decide whether the successes against the IS can be made sustainable, yes or no."
Hope for further German deployment
She has had many discussions – for example with the Jordanian king or in Iraq with the prime minister and the president. Everyone wants the Germans to stay:
"It is more difficult for Iraq to explain that it is not obvious that the mission should continue, but that it must be decided by parliament, so I sincerely hope that the impressions and arguments in Jordan, but also here in Iraq helps to bring together enough arguments to make clear how important it is that Germany remains involved in this region. "
Many have heard arguments from SPD defense expert Siemtje Möller, the Kramp-Karrenbauer with three other representatives of the Bundestag. And yet she remains skeptical, especially with regard to the mission in Iraq:
"What I have heard so far in Iraq is the great desire for reconstruction, and that is only part of what is still going on for me today." In what ways do we actually need to be here? don't do better? "
Mandate for anti-IS uses its first test
Kramp-Karrenbauer will have to make a compromise. In its current form, the mandate has little chance. Although the deputy commander of the international anti-IS operation, British General Ghika, called on the Germans to stay:
"Whether it is the tornado reconnaissance flights or the doctors who save lives, the trainers who train Iraqis, or the soldiers here at headquarters who help us, German involvement is fundamental – and the coalition here would be a loss and would throw us back. "
Kramp-Karrenbauer will now hold conversations in Erbil in Iraq and also meet soldiers there. It wants to prevent the German participation in the anti-IS operation from ending. And if you want, that's your first real test as the new Secretary of Defense.