NATO divided over approach in Afghanistan

16 January 2008

NATO divided over approach in Afghanistan

The disparaging remarks of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates regarding the performance of soldiers in southern Afghanistan reveal cracks in NATO's front, says SP Member of Parliament and foreign affairs specialist Harry van Bommel. Gates said that NATO troops in the south of Afghanistan did not know how to combat an uprising, a criticism which was directed in part at the Netherlands.

Harry van Bommel“Gates' comments illustrate the difference in opinion as to how things should be tackled in Afghanistan and could eventually lead to the departure of allies," says Van Bommel. "If countries hear that their armed forces are not up to the task in Afghanistan, they won't see any reason to prolong their presence there."

Van Bommel today put a number of parliamentary questions to the Minister of Defence. He wants to know whether this difference of opinion will now at last be discussed at the highest level of NATO. “It doesn't make much sense to remain in a coalition with countries who differ completely in their views as to the best approach in Afghanistan," says Van Bommel. "In the end such differences of opinion will lead to frustration, endangering the entire mission. That's unacceptable."

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