Dutch opposition appear to support NATO arms embargo mission

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The Dutch opposition appears to support the proposed Dutch participation in a NATO operation to control the UN arms embargo against Libya. So far only the Socialist Party has raised objections.

Last night, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the Netherlands would send six F16 fighter planes, a minesweeper HNLMS Haarlem and a KDC-10 fuelling plane to the Mediterranean to monitor the embargo. The Dutch parliament is currently being briefed on the mission by Chief Commander Peter van Uhm.

Labour Party MP Frans Timmermans says his party has a large number of questions but the party thinks the Netherlands should help "prevent the massacre of the Libyan people" by Muammar Gaddafi.

Green Left MP Arjan El Fassed says the party supports the mission "As long as the mission helps protect Libyans." Nevertheless, the MP thinks more clarity in needed about the nature and scope of the operation before the party gives its approval.

On Twitter Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders said supporting the cabinet plans for military participation in Libya is "very difficult". He feels the Arab countries are not doing enough. On Tuesday, he called for a "limited supportive role" for the Dutch.

On Tuesday, Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer voiced his fears that the Netherlands would be drawn into "a civil war in which the international community is acting as an air force for the rebels".

Although the government does not officially require parliamentary support for a foreign mission, it is customary such missions to be sent with the support of a large majority. The coalition parties, the conservative VVD and Christian Democrats appear to have the backing of D66 and the Green Left. If the Christian Unions puts aside its concerns, there is a narrow majority. Meanwhile, the Labour Party says it is positive about the proposed mission, which means there is broad parliamentary support.

Analysts say the Dutch contribution is politically symbolic rather than militarily necessary. The move is being seen as a possible step towards further involvement in a possible NATO mission to monitor the no-fly zone above Libya.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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