(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
BERLIN - Germany has not had any major terrorist attacks, but Islamic State is still a severe danger to it, MP Elisabeth Motschmann, a member of the Bundestag's Foreign Affairs Committee, told Israeli journalists Wednesday.
Motschmann explained the rationale behind the German government's decision to take part in the Western intervention in Syria, which is expected to be approved in a final vote in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, Friday.
"We have to work with France, our important partner in the European Union, to respond to IS terror attacks, or we will have them all over the world," Motschmann said. "Our country has had good luck, no big attacks like in France, the UK or Spain, but the danger to us is as big as to other EU countries."
"I don't feel comfortable having German soldiers all over the world, but we cannot let everyone else act while we live comfortably," Motschmann added. "We have to try to defeat terrorists wherever they are...We can't say 'not us.' Germany is strong economically and militarily."
Germany plans to send 1,200 soldiers as technical support, not in active combat, and Tornado planes and surveillance satellites used for reconnaissance, specifically differentiating IS bases from civilian areas, and protecting aircraft carriers. In addition, it is increasing its troops in Mali from 150 to 650, and continuing its presence in Afghanistan.
While the Christian Democrats faction, of which Chancellor Angela Merkel and Motschmann are members, approved the move 349-1, it is controversial on the far right and the left.
The MP explained that sending so many soldiers is not a decision that was taken lightly.
"I have two sons in the army. I asked myself: If my sons would have to serve, would I still vote yes? And I decided, I have to support this...We have to hear these arguments [against military intervention], but we have to each make our own decision," she stated.
Still, Motschmann said, there would not be German troops on the ground, and that ground troops in Syria must come from the Middle East.
"This is a conflict between Muslims. This is not a war of Christians versus Muslims, even though they attack the West," she stated.
At the same time, Motschmann said Germany supports the talks in Vienna about Syria's future.
The duration of German troops' engagement in Syria depends on the success of the talks, she explained, but expressed near-certainty that they would be there for over a year.
Motschmann said she "can't imagine a solution for the future of Syria with [President Bashar] Assad; no one wants that."
However, she said that the West was too hasty in deposing despots in Iraq and Libya, and they must make sure they leave some kind of administration in Syria.
Motschmann also addressed the refugee issue, pointing out that Merkel agreed to accept 1 million this year, and the number may triple if refugees bring their families.
She said that accepting refugees is "the Christian thing to do, and we are the Christian Democratic Party."
The MP described the concerns of Germans about refugees: "People are afraid there will be too many refugees who won't be able to integrate...This may be the biggest challenge for our country since reunification or even World War II."
"Some people don't want to be integrated...If they wear a burka, they're sending a signal that they don't want to integrate. We have to pay attention, because we don't want Sharia law. We don't want equality between men and women to be attacked. Most, however, want integration," she posited.
If the wave of refugees becomes too strong, Motschmann added, Germany may have to consider closing its borders to all but the most difficult cases from Syria.