Jan van Aken: Are humanity and democracy enough to combat ′IS′? | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 24.11.2015
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Jan van Aken: Are humanity and democracy enough to combat 'IS'?

It's the "wet dream of terrorists to be called 'army of a foreign state,'" the foreign policy spokesman of the German Left Party says on DW's Conflict Zone. If military action isn't an option, how do you fight IS?

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Jan van Aken on Conflict Zone

Jan van Aken says French President Francois Hollande calling "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists an army after the recent terror attacks in Paris played perfectly into their hands.

"He turned brutal, bad murderers into warriors of a foreign state. Why do you do this? This is the wet dream of the terrorist, to be called an army of a foreign state. I think it was a very big mistake and a very big victory for IS," opposition member van Aken tells Tim Sebastian on DW's Conflict Zone.

Van Aken makes these comments amid growing fears of repeated terror attacks in Europe. In response to the Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, France has declared war with IS. In the wake of the attacks, the Belgian capital Brussels was shutdown amid a terror alert.

An international coalition is now looking at more targeted efforts to shake the group at its very roots: France is seeking international help to intensify its strikes on the jihadi militant group. But what will its closest partner, Germany, do? How will Berlin help?

Jan van Aken bei Conflict Zone

Jan van Aken is the Foreign Policy Spokesman of the German Left Party and this week's guest on Conflict Zone with Tim Sebastian.

Can Germany afford to stand on the sidelines?

DW's Tim Sebastian asks whether Germany can still stand on the sidelines militarily: "How are you supposed to deal with the terrorists? [...] Lean back, let them kill and put a little pressure on the Arabs to stop funding terrorist groups?"

Van Aken, who sharply criticizes Germany's arms export and opposes military action abroad, implies gestures are more powerful than weapons: "In Norway, after Breivik Massacre [left 92 people dead in 2011]. So, the first reaction of Stoltenberg was: 'What we need now is more humanity and more democracy.' And I think that was the biggest defeat for the murderers."

Is the German training mission in Erbil just an alibi?

Van Aken says German soft power would be much more effective than the Bundeswehr troops training Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq.

"People in 'IS' territory [are left] being slaughtered, being raped, being killed because the German Government does not want to have any conflict with Barzani [President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region] and I think this is the basic problem. Germans are looking for the easiest solution and that is: deliver some machine guns. It wouldn't help at all in the fight against IS".

Referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he says the West missed the point when he was willing to talk about the future of Syria: "I think there were big mistakes concerning Assad. And there was a point where he was willing to concede, when he was militarily weak, and then the West thought they were too strong to talk – that was a mistake. But Islamic State, I don't see anyone there willing to talk. So there is no point now."

Van Aken has a PhD in biology and became an expert for genetics at the organization Greenpeace. He worked as a biological weapons inspector for the United Nations. Since 2009, he has sat in the German Bundestag for the Left Party where his agenda includes a pacifist foreign policy and ending arms exports.

How practical are Jan van Aken's solutions? Can pacifism work confront the threats of 2015? Find out on November 25.

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