German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere confirmed that he expected Turkey to formally request help from nato later today. Mortar rounds from Syria have already landed in Turkey, and the government is concerned the spillover could worsen.
Germany and the Netherlands are the only European nato members with the most advanced Patriot missile batteries—the pac-3. Turkish media reported that Germany, which owns more of the weapon systems, is the most likely source for the Patriots.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that de Maiziere told defense ministers from France, Poland, Italy and Spain that he felt that Germany should contribute to the mission.
German-Foreign-Policy.com points out that the Patriot batteries could also be used to enforce a no-fly zone over rebel-controlled parts of Syria. Germany, however, insists that this is not its intention. Nonetheless, Germany’s opposition parties are demanding that parliament approve the deployment—a legal requirement before German troops are sent into battle.
Germany appears remarkably keen to deploy the missiles. During the two Iraq wars, the Netherlands provided the Patriot missiles and supporting troops. Contrast Germany’s attitude toward the situation in Syria—volunteering to provide the missiles even before Turkey asks for them—to its actions in Libya. Then, Germany was notable for its refusal to get involved. This time, Germany’s defense minister is doing a dignified equivalent of bouncing up and down with one hand in the air, saying, “pick me, pick me.”
It is clear that Germany’s military deployment follows an overarching strategy that other nations lack. Germany is choosing to send troops to some regions, sell weapons to others, and is avoiding getting involved in the rest.
With the German Navy patrolling the area as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (unifil), Germany already has a military presence in the Levant region. To find out more about the strategy behind Germany’s moves, read our article “Next in Line, Please” from the December 2012 issue of the Philadelphia Trumpet. ▪