Dutch soldiers to train Iraqi security forces
28 January 2005, AMSTERDAM — A large majority of MPs on Thursday backed deploying 25 Dutch soldiers in a Nato operation to train Iraqi security forces in the beleaguered Iraqi capital Baghdad.
28 January 2005
AMSTERDAM — A large majority of MPs on Thursday backed deploying 25 Dutch soldiers in a Nato operation to train Iraqi security forces in the beleaguered Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Opposition parties green-left GroenLinks and the Socialist Party SP voted against the mission. GroenLinks MP Farah Karimi said it was irresponsible to send troops to the most dangerous city in Iraq, where bombings by insurgents are occurring on an almost daily basis.
The mission is initially planned to take no longer than six months. But the Cabinet has said a large detachment might also be dispatched to Iraq and that it is possible they will be stationed there for a longer period of time.
There are currently 90 Nato soldiers in Iraq teaching Iraqi soldiers to become trainers. The alliance said earlier this month that it would increase its deployment to about 300 troops.
Dutch MPs backed the mission during a fiery debate in the Lower House of Parliament with Foreign Minister Ben Bot and Defence Minister Henk Kamp on Thursday.
Kamp said he was not concerned about the safety of the Dutch troops because they would be quartered in a heavily-guarded section of Baghdad where diplomatic missions and embassies are also located.
But government coalition party the Christian Democrat CDA came under heavy fire during the debate after parliamentary leader Maxime Verhagen sparked confusion about a possible extension of the present peacekeeping mission in the south of Iraq.
The Liberal VVD — which had wanted to extend the peacekeeping mission until the end of this year — strongly rebuked Verhagen. Labour PvdA MP Bert Koenders also criticised the CDA, claiming the party had caused international damage to Dutch prestige.
CDA Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende confirmed last week that the mission will end as planned mid-March. This was despite the fact that Britain, the US, Japan and the Iraqi interim government had urged the Dutch government to extend the mission.
Some 1,400 Dutch troops are stationed in the Iraqi province of al-Muthanna. Two soldiers have been killed since the mission started in the summer of 2003. About 350 replacement troops will be re-deployed for six to eight weeks after the end of the mission to dismantle the Dutch camps
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news