This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on the situation in Iraq

Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group – Mr President, the events in Iraq and in fact the entire Middle East are very worrying but the situation does not come out of the blue. The Islamic State (IS) was able to grow in Syria’s war circumstances with the toxic help of certain Gulf State actors. The Islamic State grew in a climate of sectarian politics fed by respective Iraqi governments not doing justice to the pluralism of the country. The post-Iraq war instability and damage, and broader problems of a social, economic and political nature led into a very explosive scenario we are looking at now. Now the illegitimate claims of the caliphate by the Islamic State, mass executions and the imposition of Sharia law are against universal human rights and they must end now. But we must also be realistic about the Islamic State, not give it more weight than is proportionate. For the entire situation in Iraq we need a political situation and the sovereignty of Iraq should be respected. The call for independence of the Kurdish region is understandable but also potentially invites a more explosive situation that will benefit no one at this point. We know that IS has a number of European fighters and recruiters and the danger they will present too when they return to our societies should not be underestimated. We need cooperation between EU Member States and a clear strategy for safety and other appropriate measures and to prevent these misguided ideologies inviting people to participate in the violent jihad. We should also work together with Turkey, through which it is believed many people enter Syria and Iraq, and of course, for a more sustainable solution in the Middle East, there must be talks which also include the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia as they are using various proxies to defend or promote their respective dangerous interests in the region. (The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 162(8)) Marietje Schaake (ALDE ), blue-card answer – I am afraid, dear colleague, that the world is not black and white and that there is no one-size-fits-all for Europe, which should act as a global player – as a strong global player in my opinion – to meet the various challenges whether they are violations of human rights or whether they are other crises that we see in the Middle East, particularly now, and I do think that the EU should show more of a leadership position through diplomatic efforts, through working with partners like Turkey to curb the spread of violent extremism or the recruitment in our own societies of people who go through Turkey into countries like Iraq and Syria. So there are many steps we can take before military intervention is needed but we all know, sadly, that the world sometimes requires not only soft power, but also hard power.