Dutch FM safeguards support for military missions that include Kurdish forces

Dutch FM safeguards support for military missions that include Kurdish forces

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok during a parliamentary debate on Syria on Tuesday rejected two formal proposals by a Dutch Turkish MP to stop all foreign military assistance missions, which includes support to Peshmerga forces in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.


“I would discourage such a motion,” the Dutch FM said. “The government, with the support of parliament, active in [areas] such as Afghanistan and with the anti-ISIS mission,” he said.


Tunahan Kuzu, a Dutch MP of Turkish origin, called on the government to suspend “all foreign missions where there is an armed struggle.”


His proposal came in the aftermath of a controversy over the Dutch government supporting Syrian opposition groups involved in human rights violations, in areas such as Afrin and the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud.


Moreover, these groups were accused of supporting or cooperating with extremist groups.


In a second motion, Dutch MP Kuzu called on the Dutch government to stop any form of support that groups that are “involved in fighting each other,” or “opposition groups that fight a regime.”


Other Dutch parliamentary members did not back his proposal.


“This would mean that the existing support in Afghanistan or the support to the Peshmergas would stop, so I also discourage this proposal,” the Dutch FM Blok added.


The Dutch government announced in September that it would end its F-16 anti-Islamic State (IS) mission but would continue to train Kurdish troops and help the new NATO-mission in Baghdad.


The Dutch government will continue to employ 50 Dutch soldiers in the Kurdistan Region. Additionally, three to twelve Dutch soldiers will continue to train Iraqi Special Forces.


Dutch military and civilian advisors will support the Kurdish security apparatus and back the professionalization of the Ministry of Peshmerga in the field of training and education.


The Dutch Army is part of the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC) that is made up of instructors from nine countries: Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Sweden.


While the Dutch initially trained Peshmerga soldiers that were fighting IS through the KTCC mission, the assignment is now slightly changing. The Dutch Army currently trains Kurdish instructors so that they may eventually manage the training.


Editing by Nadia Riva