Expatica news

MPs order Dutch troops to stay in Iraq

23 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — A large majority of Dutch MPs on Tuesday night backed the Cabinet’s decision to extend the nation’s troop deployment in Iraq by eight months.

Coalition government party Democrat D66 indicated it would back the extension last month after the UN Security Council supported a new resolution over Iraq. Opposition parties Labour PvdA and the populist LPF also put aside their objections on Tuesday.

The PvdA was initially hesitant about extending the security mission, but was pleased by the new resolution, the larger role for the United Nations in Iraq, the return of sovereignty to the Iraqi government and the Cabinet’s response to security concerns.

There are currently about 1,350 Dutch troops stationed in southern Iraq and it is considered important, but not necessary, for there to be broad parliamentary support for a peacekeeping mission or an extension of operations involving Dutch troops.

And only the small opposition parties the Socialist Party (SP) and green-left GroenLinks, plus three Labour PvdA MPs, voted against the extension on Tuesday, giving the Dutch government the broad support it had hoped for.

The PvdA support for the extended mission drew derision from the SP and GroenLinks. In particular, the SP reminded PvdA leader Wouter Bos that he said after the 11 March bombings in Madrid that it was time to bring the Dutch troops home.

Defence Minister Henk Kamp was pleased with the new PvdA stance and Foreign Minister Ben Bot welcomed the broad support given in the Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, for the mission’s extension.

The eight-month extension means the troops will remain in Iraq until March 2005, after a new Iraqi government is democratically elected. The elections are scheduled to occur in January 2005.

But the Liberal VVD, Christian Democrat CDA, ChristenUnie and the SGP urged that the government keep the door open for another possible extension of the mission in 2005. The Liberal VVD wants Dutch troops to stay in Iraq until the end of next year.

The Dutch troops have been stationed in the southern Iraqi province al-Muthanna since the summer of 2003. There has been one fatality reported amid a recent spate of violent incidents. Dutch troops survived a car bomb attack on Tuesday near Tallil, in the Italian patrol sector.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news