MPs query Iraqi recruitment
18 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Growing parliamentary pressure will force Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to answer MPs' questions this week over the alleged Dutch involvement in the secret US recruitment of Iraqi volunteers prior to the invasion of Iraq.
18 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Growing parliamentary pressure will force Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to answer MPs' questions this week over the alleged Dutch involvement in the secret US recruitment of Iraqi volunteers prior to the invasion of Iraq.
Governing coalition party Democrat D66 — which claims the minister withheld information from MPs — and the opposition green-left GroenLinks are demanding an emergency parliamentary debate with De Hoop Scheffer. The debate is expected to be held on Wednesday or Thursday.
GroenLinks claims that Dutch involvement in the recruiting of Iraqi people living in the Netherlands symbolised that nation gave active support to the US-led invasion of Iraq, Dutch associated press ANP reported on Monday night.
But Minister De Hoop Scheffer — who will become the new Nato chief at the end of the year — continues to deny the government was actively involved in the US military's recruitment drive.
The US recruited hundreds of Iraqi exiles mainly from Western Europe and the US to assist in the invasion. Initial plans to deploy them in the frontline were scaled back and the troops were trained in Hungary for mainly post-war humanitarian efforts.
But current affairs show Netwerk reported on Monday night that Iraqi asylum seekers to the Netherlands were given assurances by the IDutch mmigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) that they could return to the country after their volunteer service with the US army, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
And De Hoop Scheffer has also admitted in a letter to Parliament that it was decided that an Iraqi's decision to leave the Netherlands to serve with the US army would not have negative consequences on their request for asylum.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has previously denied the Netherlands was actively involved in the recruiting process.
Meanwhile, the Labour PvdA, Christian Democrat CDA, D66 and GroenLinks have also called Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk and Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner to order about the Iraqi recruits. The IND comes under the wing of the Justice Ministry.
The Netherlands gave political, but not military support to the war against Iraq and now has 1,100 marines stationed in the south of the Islamic country to assist in peacekeeping operations.
The troops have been in place since the summer and Parliament must decide this week whether to extend the mission by another six months. The troops have been placed on high alert following the killing last week of 19 Italian peacekeeping troops in a suicide bomb attack not far from where the Dutch have been deployed.
Due to the extreme hot weather in Iraq — which ranges between 45 and 50 degrees Celsius — the troops are being relieved every four months and 156 soldiers returned to Eindhoven on 14 November. It was the first deployment to have been sent home.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news