Berlin – The lower house of the German parliament approved on Friday joining the military campaign against the Islamic State in Syria. The decision includes measures like sending Tornado reconnaissance jets, a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier, refueling aircraft, and up to 1,200 military personnel to Syria, although German forces will not be involved in direct combat.
Following an appeal from France for support after the attacks in Paris, Germany has decided to play a supporting role but it won’t join in airstrikes. These are currently being launched by members of the US-led coalition including Britain, France, and Australia.
The mission that will cost €134 million ($145 million) was put to parliament. 598 lawmakers took part in the Friday vote. Germany’s opposition Left party rejected the mission, saying it was too rushed. The opposition Greens warned that investigation data gathered could be altered by the nations involved. In the end, the results were: 445 voted for military action, 146 against, and seven members of parliament abstained.
Votes in Favor
Norbert Röttgen of Merkel’s conservatives, the chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said during Friday’s debate that the intended mission was legal and legitimate, saying it had been forced on Germany by the terror attacks in Paris on November 13th.
“The Paris attacks have forced us in Europe to realize that the Middle East is not somewhere distant like South America. It is our neighbor and we Europeans must take responsibility for this region,” Norbert Röttgen said.
Roderich Kiesewetter, the foreign affairs spokesman for Chancellor Merkel’s conservatives, told Germany’s parliamentary television channel that a quick decision was needed in the wake of November’s attacks in Paris. Kiesewetter also said parliament would later focus on longer-term aspects of Syria’s civil war.
The government said actions were necessary as the chaos in the Middle East was increasingly affecting events in the country. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived in Germany and there have been lots of terrorist alerts and risky missions overseas for Germany’s all-volunteer armed forces.
Jan van Aken, Former UN chemical weapons observer and foreign affairs spokesman for the Left party, said that Germany’s intended mission was a big error decided in only three days.
Dietmar Bartsch, Left parliamentary group leader said on public television that there were many other steps that should be taken, including international restrictions on IS oil sales.
Sahra Wagenknecht, co-leader of the Left party, told Parliament, “War is terror that breeds more terror”
Germany’s history on retracting war matters since WWII is getting over
Even 70 years after World War II, Germany remains cautious on using its military outside The North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance. These kinds of missions require parliamentary approval.
Berlin refused to back the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and abstained from a UN resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya in 2011.
But in recent decades Germany’s military strategy has changed paths about organizing troops in overseas missions.
To name a few, German warplanes participated in 1999 bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war. This was their first overseas combat mission since 1945.
Last year, Berlin approved shipping weapons to Iraqi Kurds fighting ISIS. This change of policy was because of an increasing concern on its citizens’ public safety.