1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German Iraq mission unconstitutional?

January 15, 2015

Legal experts in the German Bundestag are doubtful that the Bundeswehr's planned mission in Iraq is constitutional. Their survey says the government's legal justification for the operation is flawed.

Ausbildung kurdischer Soldaten in Hammelburg 02.10.2014
Image: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

The German parliament's scientific research service says the government's legal argument to justify a training mission for Kurds in Iraq has "no constitutional basis," according to a survey seen by both the news agency dpa and "Der Spiegel" magazine.

Berlin is planning to send up to 100 soldiers to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil to help train Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists. The cabinet approved the plans last December.

As the mission is not part of a formal NATO or United Nations operation, it is not clear whether it is legal.

The parliamentary survey says the legal grounds for the operation may be unconstitutional as missions abroad are only allowed if they are conducted as part of a "system of collective security" according to article 24 of Germany's Basic Law.

Both the Green and the Left party have expressed similar concerns during a debate in parliament on Thursday.

The survey does offer an alternative - it states that article 87 of the Basic law could be used to legitimize the mission. It allows foreign missions for "emergency assistance" to other states, which is then defined as an "extended defense of Germany."

Both the foreign and the interior ministry are against invoking article 87, as it has never been used and may set a dangerous precedent for more Bundeswehr missions abroad.

Steinmeier defends mission

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier defended the planned mission on Thursday. "This is not a combat mission, it is about training," he said in parliament.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen also defended the plans, praising the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who "are not just defending their country, they are also defending all of us against ISIS [IS]," she said in parliament.

Germany has already sent Iraqi Kurds weapons and equipment to the tune of 46.5 million euros ($53.9 million).

ng/sb (dpa, AFP)