German troops deployed in Iraq will be partially relocated to Jordan and Kuwait due to the tensions that have followed the U.S. killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
Bases in the capital Baghdad and Taji, in particular, will be “temporarily thinned out,’’ Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote in a letter to parliamentarians on Tuesday.
Both reiterated that talks were ongoing with the government in Baghdad about a continuation of the German deployment.
“Of course, we will respect every sovereign decision of the Iraqi government.
“We are in principle ready to continue our tried and tested support as part of an internationally coordinated framework if this is desired by Iraq and the situation allows it,” they wrote.
On the situation in Baghdad and Taji, the ministers wrote: “The soldiers deployed there will soon be relocated to Jordan and Kuwait.
“When the training can be resumed, these forces can be transferred back.”
Because of the tensions over the deadly U.S. airstrike on Soleimani in Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militia in Iraq is preparing a partial withdrawal.
The headquarters for “Operation Inherent Resolve’’ will be partially relocated to Kuwait, sources said. This would also affect three of the German soldiers posted at the headquarters.
At the Taji military complex in central Iraq, 27 German soldiers, who are helping train Iraqi forces, will be moved.
Overall, Germany has 415 soldiers participating in the operation, 120 of them in Iraq.
Recall Iraq’s parliament had approved a resolution to oblige the government to end the presence of foreign troops linked to a U.S.-led alliance fighting Islamic State.
In an emergency session, the parliament issued a resolution obliging the government to rescind its previous request for help from the anti-Islamic State coalition after the defeat of the extremist militia.
The parliament also called for the government to prevent any foreign troops from using Iraqi airspace for any reason.
The move comes after a U.S. airstrike on Friday near Baghdad airport killed a senior Iranian general and Iraqi Shiite militia leader along with several Iran-allied militiamen.
Earlier, German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass has said he wants to seek talks with both Iran and key international partners to ease tensions following the US airstrike which killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
“In the coming days, we will do all we can to work against a further escalation of the situation — at the United Nations, in the EU, and in a dialogue with our partners in the region, including talks with Iran,” Maas told the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
Iran has vowed revenge in the wake of the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
Maas said the situation had become “more unpredictable.”
“Everyone must be aware that any provocation could now lead to an uncontrollable spiral of violence, with unforeseeable consequences for the entire region and also for our security in Europe,” the German official asserted.
Maas also mentioned three goals. “First: avoid a war-like escalation. Second: preserve Iraq’s stability and integrity and third: make sure that ISIS (the terrorist militia Islamic State) does not gain ground again in the slipstream of these upheavals.”
According to Maas, there is currently no acute danger for German tourists in the Gulf region: “So far, there have been no concrete threats against Germans in the main travel areas there,” he said. “But the situation in the region has become more volatile.”
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