Germany Refuses to Send Arms to Stop Islamist Advance in Iraq

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government rejected sending weapons to Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamist militants as a lawmaker in her party said Germany should take a more active stance.

While welcoming U.S. air strikes that have slowed the advance of Islamic State, Germany is focused on providing humanitarian aid for refugees fleeing from the al-Qaeda breakaway group, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sebastian Fischer told reporters in Berlin at a government press conference today.

“It is the fundamental policy of this government as well as of all previous governments not to deliver weapons to crisis and war zones,” Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman, said at the briefing. “This is a principle that this government of course feels obligated to continue.”

U.S. President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on Aug. 7 to prevent the mass slaughter of civilians and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country will discuss with its European Union partners how to arm Iraqi Kurds.

Karl-Georg Wellmann, a lawmaker from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said today on Deutschlandfunk radio that Germany’s self-imposed limitation has become “embarrassing.”

Germany “can’t sit and watch” when “genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” are committed, Wellmann said. “We must support the Kurds who are leading a desperate fight against an emerging terrorist state and give them the things they need to prevail.”

Cem Oezdemir, co-chairman of Germany’s Green party, which has roots in the environmental and peace movement, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper he supports U.S. air strikes and weapons deliveries to the Kurds.

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