The Netherlands will send extra soldiers to Iraq and Mali next year, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Friday after the weekly Council of Ministers. In total it concerns a few hundred soldiers.
In Iraq, the Netherlands has long been part of the coalition against the Islamic State (IS). The Dutch training missions have recently been shut down because the coalition is given an advisory role. The Netherlands will be in charge of this from next year.
According to Rutte, the fight against IS is in a new phase, in which the emphasis is on protection. The aim is to help the local organizations professionalize, so that they can independently fight the terrorist group at a later time.
100 to 150 soldiers are going to Erbil for the security of the international airport, from where the coalition carries out an important part of the activities. The military will work with the United States to secure personnel and equipment. The first Dutch will probably leave for Erbil in early January.
The Netherlands sends a transport plane to Mali
In addition, with a C-130 transport aircraft, the Netherlands makes a logistical contribution to MINUSMA, the mission with which the United Nations (UN) is trying to restore security and stability in Mali. The crew and support personnel are estimated to consist of 70 to 130 soldiers.
Rutte points out that the situation in the African country is not improving, but is actually getting worse. Two months ago it was announced that the cabinet was looking at the possibilities of being part of the rotational association with Norway, Denmark and Portugal.
The three countries have been alternating every six months for years to provide a logistical contribution to the UN mission. The Netherlands is expected to become part of the rotation association from November 2021. This contribution is initially one-off.