There is general agreement that the war against ISIS cannot be won by coalition airstrikes alone. There must be boots on the ground.

There is also general agreement that the Kurdish Peshmerga are the bravest and most effective fighting force opposing the forces of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq.

Unfortunately, while ISIS is equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, seized as booty when the Iraqi army abandoned their weapons and ran for dear life, the Peshmerga are forced to rely on World War II weapons.

Kurdish leaders have been begging Washington for better weapons – like those that we air-dropped on Kurdish forces fighting in the Syrian town of Kobani. But Washington, fearful of offending the government in Baghdad, so far has not provided weapons directly to the Peshmerga, only to the central government.

The government then divides the arms among a group of at least three: the Sunni, the Shiites and the Kurds, with whom the central government has a strained relationship.

This leaves the Peshmerga in a terrible situation. They bear the brunt of the battle in the north, but are deprived of the weapons they desperately need. Germany recently set a better example by providing weapons directly to the Peshmerga. In January, Germany’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, spent two days visiting a contingent of Bundeswehr soldiers training Peshmerga fighters in the use of weapons Germany has given them.

According to Deutsche Welle, the German international broadcaster, Germany has delivered equipment “worth around 70 million euros (about $83 million) to the Kurds, enough to supply 10,000 fighters.”

Germany’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, was quoted as saying that it was important to support the Peshmerga “because we know that the Peshmerga are not only standing up for their country, but for all of us.”

Jon Swan

Yarmouth