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Prolongation of Uruzgan mission is support for NATO, not for Afghanistan

30 November 2007

Prolongation of Uruzgan mission is support for NATO, not for Afghanistan

Prolongation of the Dutch military mission in Uruzgan can do nothing further to help Afghanistan and is primarily a move to prevent NATO from suffering the loss of face it fears it would undergo should the mission be discontinued. So argues SP foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel in reaction to the government's decision to extend the Netherlands' military presence in the country until at least 2010. “This decision means that we are once again investing a billion euros in an impossible armed mission, while we would be doing a lot more to help the Afghan people if we were to invest instead in the reconstruction of education, health care and infrastructure in the more stable, peaceful areas,” Van Bommel said.

Harry van Bommel“The government is maintaining a hopeless situation, simply sweating it out in the vain hope that things will eventually get better," Van Bommel added. "All that can stop the hostilities is a ceasefire between the warring Afghan groups. The participation of our troops is making the war worse and offers the Afghan people no real solution. The Netherlands should be putting the case for an extension of aid programmes in those areas where reconstruction is really possible."

From a number of different reports from both the US government and independent thinktanks, it has emerged that the security situation in Afghanistan has reached rock bottom. Highly placed anonymous officials in the US administration have revealed that the Taliban's sphere of influenced is growing ever greater. In the meantime, the Afghan population is paying the price. Within the battle zones the tally of civilian dead and wounded, victims of both the NATO forces – known as ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force – and the Taliban, is increasing. The Red Cross announced back in June that the humanitarian situation was worse than at any time since 2001.

“In these conditions, continuing with the mission demonstrates a stubborn refusal to face up to reality," Van Bommel concluded. "The SP is hoping that parliament will use its power to repudiate the cabinet's decision and offer our support to the Afghan people through development aid rather than waging war.”

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