NATO commits to extend training Iraqi forces in anti-ISIS war / THE MERKEL & ERDOGAN MEETING

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— 9 July 2016 – RUDAW – The Warsaw Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ended on Saturday with commitments to the war against the Islamic State through extending the military alliance’s training of Iraqi forces and providing airborne surveillance to the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, while NATO allies Germany and Turkey met on the sidelines to try to patch up their fractured relationship.

“The global threat of terrorism knows no border, nationality, or religion,” reads the Warsaw Summit Communiqué issued by the military alliance on the conclusion of its two-day summit. “We are ready to do more to counter this threat, including by helping our partners provide for their own security, defend against terrorism, and build resilience against attack.”

NATO committed to providing in-country training of Iraqi forces in an extension of its current program running in Jordan, where the military alliance began training 350 Iraqi officers in April 2016.

While voicing their support for Baghdad, the military alliance stressed the importance of national unity in the country in order to ultimately defeat terrorism.

“The participation of all Iraqis through national reconciliation and inclusive governance is crucial,” reads the Communiqué, “and we therefore encourage the Iraqi authorities to continue to implement policies to bridge ethnic, sectarian, and religious divisions, and ensure inclusive representation in all governmental institutions, and to develop the country’s security forces.”

NATO aims to have the training program up and running by January 2017.

The military alliance also committed NATO AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System] surveillance planes to the US-led global coalition fighting the Islamic State, with a planned start date in the fall.

But the 28-nation group warned that decisive defeat of ISIS in Syria will only be possible “with a legitimate government in place,” and called for “an immediate and genuine political transition in this country.”

While the alliance confirmed their contribution to the international coalition fighting ISIS, it stressed that the contribution “does not make NATO a member of this coalition.”

On the sidelines of the summit on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, their first meeting since the German parliament voted to recognize the Armenian massacre under the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Ties between the two nations have been strained since the German parliament’s resolution on June 2.

Ankara withdrew its ambassador to Berlin and denied German parliamentarians access to its Incirlik airbase where 250 German soldiers are stationed as part of the nation’s contribution to the war against ISIS.

“The atmosphere was constructive,” Merkel told reporters after the meeting. “The differences don’t just disappear through such a discussion, but I believe it was important that we talked them through.”

Germany is keen to keep on good terms with Turkey in order preserve the European Union’s deal with Turkey to stop the flow of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea and landing on Europe’s shores.