Iraqi recruiting 'acrobatics' slammed
21 November 2003 AMSTERDAM — Foreign Affairs Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer attracted heavy parliamentary fire on Thursday night for "language acrobatics" and accusations he misinformed the Parliament over the US military's recruitment of Iraqi exiles.The Labour PvdA and green-left GroenLinks — both of which accused the minister of reproachable behaviour — plus Democrat D66 and Liberal VVD vocally rebuked the minister, but a PvdA motion to put De Hoop Scheffer through the wringer will probably fail to attr
21 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Foreign Affairs Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer attracted heavy parliamentary fire on Thursday night for "language acrobatics" and accusations he misinformed the Parliament over the US military's recruitment of Iraqi exiles.
The Labour PvdA and green-left GroenLinks — both of which accused the minister of reproachable behaviour — plus Democrat D66 and Liberal VVD vocally rebuked the minister, but a PvdA motion to put De Hoop Scheffer through the wringer will probably fail to attract VVD and D66 support.
The Christian Democrat CDA minister also denied during the emergency debate that he had misinformed MPs, but upon reflection, he admitted he could have been more precise, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
De Hoop Scheffer was strongly attacked for answers he gave to questions from former D66 MP Thom De Graaf, the present Minister for Kingdom Relations. The foreign minister previously claimed the Cabinet was not actively involved in the recruitment or selection of Iraqi exiles residing in the Netherlands.
The US recruited hundreds of Iraqi exiles mainly from Western Europe and the US to assist in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Initial plans to deploy them in the frontline were scaled back and the troops were trained in Hungary to act as interpreters and for post-war humanitarian efforts.
De Hoop Scheffer admitted on Thursday that the US embassy asked the Justice Ministry in February to give a guarantee that two Iraqis who were still waiting for a decision over their asylum request would be allowed to return to the Netherlands after serving with the US forces.
He said "a political decision" had been taken in favour of the request and the transport of the selected Iraqis from a Dutch airstrip to Hungary was also approved. But the minister said the two decisions had nothing to do with recruitment or selection.
The CDA, VVD and D66 government officially gave political, but not military support to the US-led war against Iraq, but GroenLinks has claimed that Dutch involvement in the recruiting of Iraqi exiles symbolised that the Netherlands gave active support to the invasion.
And PvdA MP Bert Koenders said De Hoop's Scheffer's answers were unsatisfactory, while GroenLinks MP Farah Karimi accused the minister of "language acrobatics". Coalition government partner MPs Geert Wilders (VVD) and Bert Bakker (D66) were also unappreciative of the linguistic wriggling act.
Wilders said De Hoop Scheffer might be officially correct, but he should also have known that the Parliament would have wanted the information that has since been made public.
Current affairs programme Netwerk has indicated that the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) was actively involved in assuring that serving with the US would not have negative consequences for asylum requests.
Only Christian Democrat CDA colleague MP Camiel Eurlings defended De Hoop Scheffer. He said the minister perhaps should have directly told MPs the full story, but also claimed the criticism that he misinformed the Parliament was inappropriate.
The Lower House will vote on the PvdA "wringer" motion on Tuesday and should it attract a parliamentary majority, it will represent a disappointing farewell for De Hoop Scheffer, who will soon start in his new job as Nato Secretary-General. He will replace incumbent Lord Robertson at the end of this year.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news