German weapons used against Yazidis sparks debate

German advisors training peshmerga (©Safin Hamed/AFP Photo)

Video footage of peshmerga forces affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) carrying German weapons in the Khanasor area of Shingal during clashes on Friday have emerged on social media. The footage gave way to controversy in German media since the arms were dispatched for use against the Islamic State.

Der Spiegel Online highlighted the issue since Germany had provided the weapons and training to the peshmerga after German politicians from the whole political spectrum agreed on the military aid in 2014 in order to protect the Yazidis from IS.

Weapons once provided to protect the Yazidis were used against them, according to German left party (Die Linke) law maker Jan van Aken. “Our worst fears have become reality, Northern Iraq is now using German weapons to increase its own powers, even against the Yazidis,“ van Aken said in the Spiegel article.

The article sheds light on the problematic issue of the local defence units’, YBS (Yazidi Shingal Resistance Units), affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The ruling KDP demands that the YBS and the PKK leave Shingal but locals are not as convinced.

“They enjoy broad support in the region as they were the ones who counterposed the IS most clearly, not the peshmerga,” the article explains.

Deputy Van Aken demanded an end to military support. “It is terrible to imagine that weapons deliveries and training from the German Armed Forces are abused to oppress and expel Yazidis for a second time,” he said.

Kurdish Regional Government is bound by an agreement to use the German weapons exclusively in the fight against the Islamic State and in accordance with international humanitarian law, a spokesperson of the German Ministry of Defence told Spiegel.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has been asked through the German troops deployed in Northern Iraq to provide a clarification, the spokesperson said. Warnings of clashes between different Kurdish groups – and possible violence against Yazidis – reached Berlin last week in a report from the military attaché to the German embassy in Baghdad.