Terror Response
Attack Testing Germany's Fraternité

As France launches a new wave of air strikes against ISIS in Syria, Germany is debating how far it will go militarily to support its closest ally. Some possibilities include freeing up French troops in Africa to focus on Syria, and taking in more refugees.

As Parisians returned to work on Monday after spending the weekend taking in the scale of Friday’s attacks that scarred their city, French airplanes were flying over Syria, bombing the city of Raqqa, one of the strongholds of the Islamic State.

If the Paris attacks that have killed at least 129 people is France’s 9/11, then French President Francois Hollande is determined to wage his own war on terror in retaliation. And Germany, which normally shies from military action, will have to decide how far it is willing to go to support its closest neighbor and ally.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was one of the first leaders to issue a public statement of solidarity, saying: “We will lead this fight together with you against those who did such unimaginable things to you.” But Germany is not taking part in the air strikes, and Ms. Merkel must now decide how she plans to fulfill that promise.

Christian Mölling, a defense and security expert at the German Marshall Fund, a think tank in Berlin, told Handelsblatt Global Edition that it is unlikely Germany will overcome its reluctance to engage militarily without a United Nations mandate, but will probably support France  in other ways.

In particular, Mr. Mölling suggested that Germany could take over some of France’s responsibilities in other U.N. missions overseas.

“The French military is incredibly overstretched at the moment: if Germany took on some of their responsibilities, it would give France more room to maneuver,” Mr. Mölling said.

Germany has said it will consider increasing its contribution to the U.N. mission north of Mali, in west Africa, for example. Earlier discussions had focused on sending intelligence officials, but Mr. Mölling suggested Germany may now consider sending troops.

To continue reading this story, please click here to go to Handelsblatt Global Edition.

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