PM didn't inform fully on Iraq

23rd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 March 2007, AMSTERDAM – Parliament was not completely informed of circumstances in the run up to the Dutch involvement in the war in Iraq in 2002.

23 March 2007

AMSTERDAM – Parliament was not completely informed of circumstances in the run up to the Dutch involvement in the war in Iraq in 2002.

Balkenende's first government did not report that there had been an extensive request from the US to fight alongside them in Iraq.

There were also doubts early on whether military action against Iraq was justified.

KRO television programme Reporter reports this in a broadcast on the Dutch role in Iraq on Sunday.

Reporter has gotten hold of several documents which show that the US asked the Netherlands for military resources on 21 November 2002. A long list was added to the request asking for the participation of the airborne brigade, frigates, mine sweepers, F-16s, Apache helicopters, precision weapons and submarines.

Foreign Affairs Minister at the time Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, now NATO secretary general, reported to Parliament however that the US request only asked for permission to fly over the Netherlands and the facilitation of through-transports.

Several months earlier, in summer 2002, Foreign Affairs officials wrote a memo on the Dutch position regarding military action in Iraq. That stated that the legal basis for a war was "adequate," but "not entirely contestable."

De Hoop Scheffer received the memo on 19 August 2002, the very day he dismissed questions in Parliament about the legitimacy of a military action as "premature," saying that a war was "hypothetical" at that point.

Reporter also has a fax from the Netherlands' permanent delegation to the UN addressed to Foreign Affairs. That fax states that the Netherlands will support a war against Iraq regardless, even if no resolution has been passed approving military action.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende indicated on Friday that all essential information was passed on to Parliament at the time. He wants to wait to see the television programme before commenting further.

Balkenende pointed out that the Netherlands did not provide military support for the operation. The country did provide political support however, because the Iraqi dictator was ignoring UN resolutions to admit weapons inspectors. Countries in the West believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Socialist Party (SP) MP Harry van Bommel, who has seen the documents, said in a response on Friday that the cabinet did not give all the information though it had been asked at the time.

He says that the government avoided discussion on these points. Giving incomplete information is not however always a mortal sin, in his opinion. He says it should be discussed whether the cabinet was obliged to give this information.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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