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Afghanistan: Dutch Partners Moving Out

  • February 21st, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

afghanistan-australia-flag1.jpgThe weekend political break-down in the Netherlands is expected to see the 1600-string Dutch contingent marching out of Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, where the main body of Australian forces is located.

The Dutch government resigned (20.2.10) after a long cabinet meeting, in which the main collation partners could not get agreement on the future of the Afghanistan commitment.

The conservative Christian Democrats wanted to keep the commitment going for now; the centre-left Labour Party wanted tio hold to earlier understandings, that the troops should come out.

Prospects for the withdrawal have been under discussion for well over a year and it appears to have been accepted philosophically at NATO headquarters in Brussels, though there was some talk there of a possible request to the Netherlands, to keep a much reduced, more token force in the field.

Despite anxiety over terrorism, public opinion has remained mostly against the Afghanistan venture, in Europe, where it is seen as mainly an American concern, out of the European theatre and too costly in terms of casualties.

isaf-logo.pngNATO provides the command structure for the allied military commitment in Afghanistan against the Taliban insurgency, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with 43 contributing countries,

Australia has altogether close to 1500 personnel there with civil reconstruction detachments, air traffic controllers and ground troops including special forces.

Debates about the future of the force have focused on the likely withdrawal of the Dutch troops. The duration of the Australian military mission, like that of leading European contributors, is being defined by the government in terms of completing reconstruction tasks and the training of companion Afghan army units or police.

Reference

Associated Press, New York Times, 21.2.10

Radio Netherlands, Hilversum, “Dutch government falls over Afghanistan”, 20.2.10. http://.www.rnw.nl/… (21.2.10).

Pictures  Troops in Afghanistan (ADF); ISAF logo

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