Iraq War

2 February 2009

Iraq Commission outrageous obstruction of parliamentary democracy

“The old boys network must be planning to whitewash Balkenende,” concluded SP leader Agnes Kant following the Premier's declaration this afternoon, in which he announced that the government would be conducting its own enquiry into Iraq. The announcement follows moves in the Senate to open a parliamentary enquiry into the decision-making procedures which led to the Netherlands' 'political support' for the US-British invasion of Iraq in March, 2003. The cabinet, Kant said, is pushing the Parliament out of the way, which she described as 'completely unacceptable.'

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29 January 2009

Van Bommel demands explanation over allegations of deal on Iraq invasion

SP Member of Parliament and foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel has asked Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen for an explanation of claims by former US State Department Under-Secretary Richard Armitage that the Netherlands was paid by the United States for its support for the invasion of Iraq. “If this was the case, they would be shown to have been hand in glove. I just want the government to say whether or not this was true.”

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27 January 2009

Latest revelations on Iraq: yet another argument for an enquiry

Documents pertaining to the cabinet discussion on the eve of the Iraq war in 2003, revealed today on the Netherlands' leading TV news programme, show that the government's preparations for military intervention reached an advanced stage. SP Foreign Affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel says that he finds it “impossible to understand” why the existence of these preparations was never announced in Parliament. “Together with earlier revelations this proves that all relevant material must be brought into the open and that a parliamentary enquiry is now unavoidable.”

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22 January 2009

Government must not fear the truth

The Senate's disappointment over the government's answers to its hundred or so questions on the Iraq war; the latest revelations in the daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad regarding the concealing from the foreign minister of official advice notes which might have borne on the decision to offer the US/UK invasion political support; these could prove the overture to a parliamentary enquiry. The answers were followed by the endorsing by a majority of Senators of calls for just such an enquiry. In parliament's lower house too, support for an enquiry is growing after it was revealed that contradictory advice notes existed in relation to Dutch support for the Anglo-American attack on Iraq. Parliament's changing attitude is emblematic of an ever-broadening consensus that this subject deserves further and closer examination. Herman Wijffels, the senior Christian Democrat who was 'informateur' (principal adviser to the Queen) when the current coalition government was established, along with five former Foreign Ministers, recently announced that they also supported an enquiry into the decision-making process which led to Dutch support for the war.

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19 January 2009

'Press revelations over suppressed memos should be reason enough for Labour to renege on its agreement with coalition partner'

For years now the SP has been demanding an explanation of the Netherlands' political support for the invasion of Iraq. In 2007 the party, together with a number of other organisations, collected 137,000 signatures on a petition demanding a parliamentary enquiry. The PvdA (Labour Party), which had always endorsed calls for an enquiry, allowed itself to be silenced by its coalition partner, the centre-right CDA, and reversed its support. Last weekend the prestigious daily newspaper NRC-Handelsblad published a critical memo from 2003. Written by senior civil servants, the memo was addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs – but it never reached him. It stated that Dutch support for the war did not comply with the demands of international law. Harry van Bommel answers six questions on the affair.

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17 January 2009

New revelations on invasion of Iraq: Van Bommel demands explanation

SP Foreign Affairs specialist Harry van Bommel wants the government to comment on the report in the leading Dutch daily NRC-Handelsblad that a meeting of top foreign affairs officials in April 2003 deliberately withheld from the Foreign Minister a legal advice note critical of the Netherlands' political support for the war on Iraq. In the note, leading civil servants argue that the government's standpoint is wrong-headed. “At the Ministry of Defence there were serious doubts about the lawfulness of the invasion of Iraq,” said Van Bommel. “The Foreign Minister always spoke out against such doubts. This revelation underlines the need for a parliamentary enquiry. No stone should be left unturned.”

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23 December 2008

Iraq: Senate sets course for parliamentary enquiry

The Senate’s disappointment regarding the answers given by the government to more than a hundred questions on the Iraq war represents a first step towards a parliamentary enquiry. This is the conclusion drawn by SP Senator Arjan Vliegenthart following this afternoon’s deliberations in the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. “The Senate can do nothing with the answers given,” says Vliegenthart. “The government continues to refuse openness. Now that the VVD has ceased to rule out an enquiry this remains a possibility.” The right wing VVD, now after the SP the second biggest party of opposition, was a member of the governing coalition that took the decision to support the war. “The government has only itself to blame, given the contemptuous way it has treated the Senate.”

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19 December 2008

Government’s answers on Iraq war: 100 times nothing

The SP is extremely disappointed by the government’s responses to its questions regarding Dutch involvement in the war against Iraq. “We have been forced to wait more than six months for these answers,” says SP Senator Arjan Vliegenthart. “That’s a very long time. This gave me high expectations, but what has arrived is worthless: to our hundred questions, a hundred times nothing. A parliamentary enquiry remains therefore an absolute necessity.”

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7 December 2008

Government answers Senate's questions on Dutch involvement in Iraq war – at last

This week the Senate is at last to receive an answer to its hundred questions on the government's involvement in the war against Iraq. SP Senator Arjan Vliegenthart, who put the questions together with Senators from the Labour Party (PvdA), Green Left, D66 (centrist liberals) and the PvdD (Animal Rights' Party), is curious. "The cabinet has taken almost six months to give an answer to our questions," he said. The length of time taken should mean that we get really good answers. Evasive and wishy-washy answers will not be acceptable."

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