Germany’s Syria Debate: Four Key Questions On European Military Action
Germany’s Defense Minister triggered a debate there and across the Atlantic when she called recently for greater German involvement in Syria and for the establishment of an international security zone. The minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (often referred to as “AKK”), has remained vague, however, about the details of her proposal.
So far, the debate has yet to provide real insight into what a proposed “international security zone” would look like, what it would aim to achieve, and who ultimately should bear responsibility for implementation. The minister’s proposal faces slim prospects amidst rejection from the Social Democratic Party, which is partner in Germany’s governing coalition with AKK’s Christian Democratic Union, and lack of interest from NATO allies. Other obstacles include the recent Russian-Turkish agreement on a temporary cessation of hostilities in the area and a joint approach to “pacify” northeastern Syria, as well as the understanding between Damascus and the Kurds on the regime deploying its troops in the border area. But, given the complexity and fluidity of the situation in Syria, and the upcoming NATO summit in December where these issues likely will be on the table, a systematic analysis of options as well as the political and military challenges of a possible mission might be useful.