German minister not in favour of threatening sanctions against Iraq

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday that he is not in favour of putting pressure on the Iraqi government amid tensions between Baghdad and Washington over a possible US troop withdrawal.

Asked by the Deutschlandfunk radio station if the “very big sanctions” threatened by US President Donald Trump were an appropriate reaction, Maas said: “At any rate, I think it is not very helpful at the current time.”

He noted that a lot has been invested in Iraq, “not only militarily, but also in terms of stabilization measures to reconstruct this country.” This is now all at risk of being lost.

“I think it will not work to convince Iraq with threats, but with arguments,” he added.

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution on Sunday calling for an end to the presence of foreign troops linked to a United States-led alliance fighting Islamic State. There are currently around 5,000 US soldiers stationed in Iraq.

It also called for the Iraqi government to prevent any foreign troops from using Iraqi land or airspace for any reason.

The move followed a US airstrike in Baghdad last week that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the deputy head of Iraq’s Muslim Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi, along with several other Iran-allied militiamen.

Maas also said in the Deutschlandfunk interview that he doubts the US had correctly assessed the consequences of the assassination.

“If I look at what has happened in the last few days after Soleimani was killed, you have to inevitably ask yourself if these are developments that were wanted. I do not think that is the case,” the minister said.

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