Dutch participation in fight against ISIS and UN mission in Mali to continue for a further year

The Dutch military involvement in the fight against ISIS and in the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, is to be extended for one year. The unrest and instability in the regions bordering Europe continue unabated, which is why the Netherlands is prolonging its contribution to international efforts to deal with these crises. The cabinet has agreed to send letters informing the House of Representatives accordingly, as required by the constitution. The government will also announce in those letters that it will inform the House of Representatives on Budget Day about the long-term funding for these missions.

Iraq

The current mandate for Dutch participation in the broad international coalition against ISIS was set to expire as of 1 October, but has now been extended until 30 September 2016. ‘Our domestic security is intertwined with external security more than ever,’ said foreign minister Bert Koenders. ‘So the Netherlands is taking its responsibility in the international arena, as well as working towards an enhanced political strategy in Iraq.’ Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said, ‘This brutal terrorist organisation is an assault on everything we stand for.’ In her view continued military deployment, as part of a broader political strategy, is a necessity. ‘ISIS’s methods and actions are unacceptable,’ the two ministers added. ‘They are inhumane and a flagrant violation of fundamental human rights.’

After 1 October, the Netherlands will continue its involvement in the air campaign against ISIS with four F-16 fighter aircraft, supported by around 200 military personnel. The 130 military personnel involved in training Iraqi and Peshmerga forces will also remain in place. In addition, there are plans to work together with Belgium. Subject to political decision-making, Belgium would take over from the Netherlands for one year as of July 2016.

Mali

The current Dutch contribution to the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, comprises around 450 military personnel. It was set to run until the end of this year, but it too is being extended, until the end of 2016. It focuses on MINUSMA’s intelligence capability and includes special forces, attack and transport helicopters and analysts. The Dutch civilian experts and police officers will also remain involved. ‘The Netherlands has made an important contribution to setting up the intelligence capability, which is the mission’s eyes and ears,’ said Ms Hennis. ‘It’s unprecedented in UN missions. The Netherlands has really made an innovative contribution and has received international praise for it.’ Mali still faces terrorism, cross-border crime and the risk of increasing migrant flows if the region destabilises further. Eventually that will affect Europe too. ‘Mali is at a key stage in the peace process and MINUSMA is playing an important role. That’s why we decided to continue the Netherlands’ effective efforts for another year,’ said Mr Koenders. The Netherlands will work towards handing over a number of tasks to other countries over the coming period.

Afghanistan

The Council of Ministers also approved a letter to the House of Representatives on the Dutch military contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. Afghanistan took over responsibility for its own security when the ISAF mission was concluded on 31 December 2014. The current NATO mission focuses on training and advising the Afghan security forces. NATO has decided to extend the first phase of this mission, which was set to run until October 2015. The training and advice programme has encountered delays, however, caused in part by the political deadlock that occurred after the Afghan presidential elections. In phase two, NATO’s presence will be scaled down gradually. Given the importance of the mission, the government has decided to continue the current Dutch contribution of 100 military personnel throughout the extended first phase of the mission. It will decide at a later date regarding a Dutch contribution to phase two. The end of the NATO mission remains scheduled for 31 December 2016.