Expatica news

Kamp outrages MPs over Iraqi mission

16 April 2004

AMSTERDAM — Defence Minister Henk Kamp outraged opposition MPs on Thursday by claiming that it would be disastrous for the Iraqi population if nations such as the Netherlands withdrew peacekeeping troops from the violence-torn nation.

Kamp said the Cabinet was wrestling with a decision about whether to extend the mission beyond July, but raised concern about the impact on the Iraqi population — which has suffered for decades — if the Dutch were to withdraw.

He said the US, Britain and the United Nations wanted the Netherlands to remain in the southern Iraqi province Al Muthanna. The estimated 1,300 Dutch troops stationed in Iraq are on extra alert due to recent violence, but no casualties have been reported.

Minister Kamp’s comments especially sparked the rage of opposition parties Labour PvdA and green-left GroenLinks, news agency ANP reported.

A green left GroenLinks MP, Farah Karimi, said she was sick and tired of Kamp’s moral superiority. PvdA MP Bert Koenders eventually stormed out of the Parliament in protest towards the end of the debate.

Koenders had earlier said that everyone wanted what was best for the Iraqi people, but Kamp had not taken into account the interests of the Afghan or Liberian population when Dutch forces were withdrawn from those two countries.

The Dutch handed over its joint command of the ISAF peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan to Nato in August 2003 and pulled out most of its 650-strong deployment. The Netherlands recently re-deployed six Apache helicopters and 135 personnel to the capital Kabul.

A Dutch hospital ship and crew returned from Liberia at the end of February, having helped stabilise the country following the end of a bloody conflict between rebels and government troops in the West African nation last year.

Meanwhile, a possible extension of the Dutch mission in Iraq was not formally debated on Thursday, but it is expected that the Cabinet will vote in favour of the troops remaining in the country until at least the end of this year.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news