German arms exports to Kurds

Germany is delivering thousands of small arms to the Kurds, an apparently complete list is here. The small arms suffice for a brigade (machine guns) to corps (pistols) equivalent, the package is not exactly well-rounded. Almost everything delivered is 1960's vintage apparently, with a surprising 8,000 G36 rifles as the exception.*

The whole delivery is a novelty, for by law Germany isn't supposed to deliver arms into crisis regions (deliveries to Turkey and Saudi-Arabia were hotly debated exceptions).
On top of this, the whole delivery was an astonishingly quick executive action, and the legal side of it is highly questionable. It may very well be that the gubernative is acting illegally and the whole thing may be an usurpation of powers of the legislative branch.**

The Kurd's peril against IS was likely not even the main motivator for this action; there were powerful domestic ones: The current social democratic minister of economic and energy affairs is part of a triad of social-democratic top politicians expected to challenge Chancellor Merkel in the next federal elections. Another one of the triad had his turn last time already. The delivery is a huge political defeat for him, since he wanted to add a very restricted arms exports policy to his vita.
At the same time this political fall of man is a huge victory of the arms industry, and possibly the defence bureaucracy which wants non-NATO and non-EU customers to help sustain the German arms industry and to finance its development projects. These groups were pushing for a more relaxed arms export policy for decades, and now they can point at a single example in which arms were delivered even into an ongoing war.

The Kurds surely didn't need German arms. They could have gotten additional small arms elsewhere. This doesn't really help make a more restrictive export policy perfect (no rule seems to be perfect on this), but it shows that the urgency wasn't a necessity, but an ambition.

I suppose this quick delivery or arms to the Peshmerga was for domestic reasons, and the IS threat to Kurds and Iraq was a false pretence merely. The main winner are the military-industrial groups with special interests. The legal side of the story could prove to be messy, or this could turn into an example how bad grand coalitions can be for democracy and separation of powers.


*: Schwere Panzerfaust = the original 84 mm Carl Gustav man-portable crew-served recoilless gun from the 1960's. The rounds still available for this weapon in Germany are likely illumination rounds exclusively. 

**: Edit:  I looked up the law, and it's not clear-cut enough to form an opinion on this without knowing all the commentary, earlier court rulings et cetera. The law itself says weapons must not be exported if there's a possibility that the arms will be used to disrupt peace. This has been treated equal to a power being at war for decades, so the legal side is tricky.


  1. Thats an odd list

    It looks like quite a good answer if the question is "what can we ship now" rather than "who are we arming, what are there motivations and what do they need"

  2. Actually it is rather well thought through.
    4000 pieces of each "personal" equipment, the Milan launchers and vehicles will be used to equip one already together "brigade" of Kurdish troops.
    The rest will be coming in "on demand and if deemed necessary [by the German Federal Goverment]".

    About the G36: these are part of the "additional" material. As far as I understand it, these are part of the "deal" as Germany doesn't even own enough G3s anymore to send in a second and third delivery. Plus these rifles are "old" first generation G36 that are in storage for 15 years already. And the Bundeswehr is itching for getting more replacement "latest generation" G36.
    Additionally it seems the other western "weapons dealers" can only supply reasonable quantities of 5.56mm weaponry. So it's a little like "take these G3 and a ton of 7.62mm ammo now, and in a month we can only give you small caliber assault rifles and ammo anyway".

    1. There's no way how the ratio between rifles and machineguns could possibly be fine. We clearly don't lack a couple hundred more MG3s - they are everywhere in the Bundeswehr, and in the process of replacement in the dismounted role.

    2. Apparently the Turkish Government will provide a couple of thousand MG3 during the three German "Tranches"

    3. Turkish arms deliveries to Kurds?
      In other news: People think pigs do fly, after all !

  3. Theres a 16,000:40 ratio of rifles to gpmg
    Thats 400:1

    The BEF in 1914 deployed with 2 per battalion, and that was considered laughably low even at the time

    Modern armies equip one per section, or even fire team.

    But what are we arming the Kurds to do?
    Container loads of rifles are find for gendarmes and national police, but defensive infantry need machine guns, and more importantly, offensive infantry need mortars

    1. The 5.56 mm G36 may be for infantry (quick and easy marksmanship training), to be supplemented by 5.56 mm M249 from the Americans (Germany has no 5.56 mm machineguns to spare).
      The P1 pistols are indeed only good for police work and pro forma armament of medics and officers.
      The G3 may be meant for non-infantry troops whose marksmanship isn't so important and the MG3 are so very few, they're probably meant to be used on vehicles and at checkpoints.

      The composition of the German arms shipment doesn't make sense on its own, so I suppose we need to look at it in context of other shipments and pre-existing equipment.

      Even this doesn't explain the P1 and MG3 figure satisfactorily. Then again, the P1 shipment is basically a dumping of scrap metal.

  4. Who is paying for this?

    Provided the German taxpayers are not on the hook, this is a good policy (aside from potential rule of law issues). Humintarians have long needlessly interfered with and prevented highly profitable arms exports in various European countries.

    Sweden for instance has a highly advanced arms industries, but humanitarian fools have succeeding in hampering it in so many ways. The country has missed out on many lucrative opportunities thanks to these humanitarian idiots.

    Good for Germany for moving past this sort of idiocy--unless the German taxpayers are being robbed for it.

    1. The German taxpayers paid for the chartering of a civilian cargo aircraft, that's everything. The weapons are old, and most of them so old that plenty weapons of the same type have already been scrapped in Germany.

  5. This seems to support the notion that the delivery is more to make a case in point about how an intervention can be carried out. The current loudly discussed delivery is not the final delivery. It's more likely a test round to see how the distribution system works and where one needs to patch up in order not to deliver latest G36 to IS.