AKK Stirs Controversy in Germany’s Cabinet with Syria Security Zone Idea
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was caught off guard by Kramp-Karrenbauer’s announcement.
Germany’s Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who succeeded Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the ruling conservative CDU party nearly a year ago, has stirred a controversy inside the country’s coalition Cabinet with a surprising idea for establishing an international security zone in Syria.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who recently succeeded the new EC President Ursula von der Leyen as Defense Minister of Germany, argued in favor of setting up an internationally controlled security zone in Syria in cooperation with European partners plus Turkey and Russia in an interview for DW.
She insisted it was in the “security interests of Germany” to act in Syria, whose civil war with heavy international involvement has been raging on for more than 8 years now, with Turkey’s recent operation against the Syrian Kurds being its latest episode.
AKK’s proposal for an international security zone in Syria could entail German and European military involvement in the Middle Eastern country.
“This security zone would seek to resume the fight against terror and against the ‘Islamic State,’ which has currently come to a standstill,” she said.
“It would also ensure that we stabilize the region so that rebuilding civilian life is once again possible, and so that those who have fled can also return voluntarily,” Germany’s Defense Minister added.
Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that Europe and Germany have a strong imperative to take action in Syria, which “directly concerns the security interests of Europe and the security interests of Germany.”
“In my opinion, it requires a stronger European initiative. Europe cannot simply be an onlooker. We also have to come up with our own recommendations and initiate discussions,” AKK said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer called for concrete recommendations for establishing an international security zone in Syria to be worked out with NATO partners during a meeting of defense ministers on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, and added that Germany would negotiate bilaterally with all parties in the conflict by using its current nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council.
AKK indicated that Chancellor Angela Merkel and defense and foreign policy experts in the CDU party were supportive of her idea about Syria.
“The idea of establishing a protective area is promising,” Chancellor Merkel told DPA on Tuesday.
Last week she proposed a summit of Germany, France, the UK, and Turkey to discuss the situation in Northern Syria where at least 160,000 civiliations have been displaced since the Turkish incursion started on October 9, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Kramp-Karrenbauer’s announcement, however, is sad to have come as a surprise to the SPD, the German Social Democratic Party, the ruling coalition partner of the CDU, including to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is a representative of the leftist party.
Maas is reported to have been notified of AKK’s initiative for Syria only shortly before her interview, through a text message.
The SPD as a whole appeared to be indignation for not having been consulting about an idea that could mean German military engagement abroad.
“This proposition came as a complete surprise not only to us as parliamentarians but also to the foreign minister… this is not the way to introduce any kind of diplomatic or military mission,” said Katarina Barley, an SPD member of the European Parliament and the former German minister of family, youth, and women.
(Banner image: AKK on Twitter)