Dutch mission in Mali is full of risks

19 October 2013

Dutch mission in Mali is full of risks

A Dutch military mission in Mali carries enormous risks. According to an article in the national daily newspaper De Volkskrant this is a mission ‘in the highest spectrum of violence, with commandos behind enemy lines and battle helicopters.' SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk will pass definitive judgement when a final decision is made in two weeks time, but he is very critical about an ill-considered participation in any mission, purely on the basis of repairing ‘damage to our reputation’.

Jasper van DijkAccording to the reconstruction in De Volkskrant, the Netherlands has a ‘damaged international reputation’ caused by its dawdling over participation in previous missions in Mali. Now the main request concerns a much more dangerous mission behind enemy lines. The Netherlands could send four hundred soldiers, including commandos, as well as battle helicopters. ‘In the article all sorts of dubious reasons were given for going along with the mission,’ says Van Dijk, citing as examples ‘damage to reputation, cuts in defence spending and a seat on the Security Council. These are side issues, while this concerns a military mission involving great dangers.’

Van Dijk’s view is that ‘participating in a mission in order to restore our reputation seems a poor reason. It must surely be determined by whether it makes sense for the Netherlands to contribute to the mission in question. There remain a number of questions regarding this: what are the risks and dangers involved in battles against the jihadists? Will the Dutch commandos come under French command? Has sufficient account be taken of the interests of the various populations groups, including the Tuaregs? Realistically, will the UN mission contribute to the achievement of peace and security in this region and in the world?’

Van Dijk wants a substantiated answer to such questions before the SP can possibly vote in favour of Dutch participation in the mission.

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