Transformations in German Middle East policy: The view from Iraq
The challenges faced by Germany’s recent experience in Iraq reflect the complex and dynamic nature of engaging in conflict zones in the Middle East. An overlap between humanitarian concerns and national security interests formed the basis of Germany’s initial decision to deploy soldiers to northern Iraq, but once there, the complex reality and shifting power dynamics meant that the Bundesrepublik needed to rebalance its engagement in order to maintain leverage as an honest broker in Iraq. During the post-IS phase, Germany’s domestic security interests have aligned with Iraq’s imperative to stabilise the liberated provinces and modernise the country’s economy to attract greater foreign investment. Germany’s experience in Iraq has shown that empowering local actors to take the lead while maintaining close coordination with the central government to ensure effective buy-in from relevant stakeholders is critical. As Europe takes a far more proactive and hands-on approach to the Middle East, there is much scope to broaden and deepen these exchanges.
Ali Al-Mawlawi is head of research at Al-Bayan Center, a Baghdad-based independent think tank, where he focuses on institutional reform and Iraqi foreign policy.