No support for Mali mission

12 December 2013

No support for Mali mission

The SP will not be supporting Dutch participation in the UN force being deployed in Mali. There is insufficient confidence that the stated goals, which include restoration of state authority and reconciliation between the warring parties, will be achieved via a military mission. In the view of SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, ‘the solution will not be brought closer by commandos hunting fighters in Mali’s north while at the same time negotiations on reconciliation are conducted with them.’

Harry van Bommel‘We’ve discussed the mission at length, because it also includes some good points,’ conceded Van Bommel. ‘It’s based on a broadly supported UN resolution which has as its aim also the protection of civilians against extremists. On the other hand there’s the risk of an Afghanistan scenario, with the Netherlands finding itself in a hopeless struggle which will provoke renewed terrorism as a result of western presence in a foreign country with a completely different culture.’

In the end the disadvantages outweighed the advantages, and the SP decided not to give the mission its support, while at the same time calling for humanitarian aid to be supplied. SP spokesman and Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk pointed out that ‘the UN has asked for US$500 million in aid for the five million people affected in Mali. It’s a matter then of emergency needs such as food and medicines. As things stand our country is giving €2 million in humanitarian aid. The military operation would cost the Netherlands around €150 million.’

Last year the Tuareg rebels seized power in the north of Mali. Shortly afterwards power in the region was taken over by various groups of jihadists. In January France took the decision to invade and the rise of the jihadists was halted. The UN then decided to send a 12,000-strong force. The Dutch government wants to contribute some four hundred soldiers to this operation, primarily aimed at intelligence gathering in the north.

A lasting solution to the conflict in Mali lies in reconciliation between the warring parties in the country’s north and the government in the south. Decentralisation of power, and economic development of the underdeveloped north are the crucial ingredients in this. It has not been sufficiently demonstrated that the UN mission, known by the acronym MINUSMA, can contribute anything to this.’

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