Cablegate: Dutch Parliament Debates Iraq

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: On April 15, the Dutch parliament engaged
debated Foreign Minister Bot and Defense Minister Kamp in a
debate on the future of Iraq. Looming in the background is
the government's upcoming decision whether to renew the
deployment of Dutch troops currently in Iraq beyond July.
with in the background the question as to whether Dutch
troops should stay beyond June. Bot and Kamp parried
opposition demands for a complete UN takeover as well as
calls for criticism of U.S. strategy. Both the gGovernment
and parliament agree on the desirability of a bigger UN role
for the UN, in Iraq but Bot rejected athe callpremise put
forward by the opposition Llabor (PvdA)Pparty spokesman
Koenders to give the UN "the political "final
responsibility" for all international efforts." Bot
notedpointed out that the UN does not wantto assume such a
role, and suggested doing so also because it would be wrong
to havewould amount to Iraq being ruled again from the
outside by another occupation force, so to speak. The goal
after all is, he said toinstead of giving give "Iraq back to
the Iraqis." Kamp robustlyardently defended the U.S.
approach in Iraq and put down clearstrong markers for a
renewedcontinued deployment stay of the Dutch troops. He
warned that a Dutch pullout would have very negative
consequences for the Iraqi people and underlined that .
Moreover, tthe UN, U.S. and UK have explicitly asked the
Dutch to stay. Ambassador Sobel will follow up with Bot on
April 22. By then, the dust will have settled and it will
be clearer as to the effect of the debate on a possible
extension. End Summary.

UN Role

2. (U) Much of the debate centered onThe definition of the
future role of the UN in Iraq was extensively debated. Bot
recalled that the government has persistently soughtbeen
pushing in past months for a more significant UN role; h.
However, talks with UN SYG Kofi Annan and UN Sspecial Eenvoy
Brahimi have made clear that to him in a recent meeting that
the UN does not seek a dominant role. is not aspiring to
assume a lead role. It would certainly not be advisable for
the UN to take over the administration. For that reason,
Accordingly, Bot rejectedopposed a resolution tabled by
opposition Labor Party Foreign Affairs Spokesman Koenders
callingthat called for giving for the UN to have "the
political final responsibility" for all international
efforts." Bot noted that Meanwhile, work continues on a new
UNSCR resolution, the adoption of which, which heBot called
desirable, and the goal of which is to get more countries
involved but he expected that such a resolution would only
be adopted by mid-June. The ultimate intention is to get
more countries involved in the process. To that end, heHe
said he had specifically discussed these issues with his
French and German counterparts, and had observed a
willingness on their parts on their part to consider sending
troops if the UN role washas been more clearly defined.

3. (U) Overall, Bot was cautiously optimistic about the
political developments in Iraq. He asserted that the noted
that current violence trouble is primarily caused by small
groups of extremists who do not have much support among the
population. He said that those. Those who oppose the
current process towards establishing democracy can be
expected to continue to try to frustrate this process in
every possible way. Bot was nonetheless was hopeful that it
would be possible to get the security situation under

Arguments for stayingRenewing the Dutch deployment in Iraq

4. (U) Defense Minister Kamp presented strongly arguedments
in favor of a continuingued stay of the Dutch troop
deployments in Iraq (note: the Dutch have approximately
1300 personnel serving in AlMuthanna province as part of the
UK Multinational Division South-East). He notedFirst, the
UN, U.S. and UK requests for the Dutch to remain and
observed there would behave explicitly asked the Dutch to
stay. There'd be "very negative consequences" for the Iraqi
people," if they left. He also cited the importance of
Dutch aAssistance to Japanese forces in AlMuthannawas cited
as another reason for staying. He did allow forKamp
referred to three three possible scenarios in which
ituations in which the Dutch troops might bewould be
withdrawn: . "If the Iraqis no longer appreciate our
presence; if the UN involvement does not become bigger, and
if the security situation deteriorates so much that it would
be no longer responsible to stay."

5. (U) Kamp said Meanwhile, preparations continue for
relieving currently deployed the present troops. The Dutch
are coordinating closely plan with the British, and
byheKamp warned it would becomes more and more difficult to
pull out as time passes, since other countries rely on the
Netherlands. The Dutch relief forces are due to arrive in
Iraq by mid-June to giveing them a few weeks to acclimatize.
AccordinglyThus, he said the final deadline for anthe
extension decision would beis mid-June, but preferably
earlier. Both Bot and Kamp supportedwere positive about a
larger future role for NATO in Iraq, although they said for
the moment NATO is very much preoccupied with Afghanistan.

6. (U) A majority of MPs from the three coalition parties,
the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Liberal
Democrats, are inclined to support the extension, while the
smaller Green Left party and the Socialist party are
opposed. While the main opposition Labor Party supported
the initial Dutch deployment and its first renewal, it now
states it will not support a renewal unless the UN is
granted a "lead role" and the entire strategy is "radically
changed." (Comment:CDA, VVD and D66 the political problem
is that the Dutch prefer to have the main opposition onboard
for deployment decisions. Technically the government has
enough votes without the Labor party or the smaller far left
parties, but it would be a significant shift to proceed
without them. End comment).


78. (U) The debate disintegrated after Green Left Foreign
Affairs Sspokesperson Karimi tried hard to induceprovoke
either Bot or Kamp to criticize the U.S. for its handling of
affairs in Iraq. Neither but they did not riserose to the
bait. Kamp . In fact, Kamp was delivered a strong and
lengthy defense of U.S. actions and objectives, noting that
the U.S. was "investing tens of billions in Iraq" and that
the main goal of the U.S. is to "bring about improvements
for the people, to transfer power to them, and to leave the
country as soon as possible." He said the Netherlands is
"glad to be part of that" and "just like President Bush, I
say in all modesty, we won't stay a day longer than is
strictly necessary." to present such a strong defense of the
U.S. approach and its objectives that he managed to disgust
both Karimi and Koenders. When In response to Kamp's
remarks Karimi shouted that she had to throw up, and Kamp
advised her to see a doctor. Koenders then stalked out of
was so angry that he left the parliament in a huff shouting
that there was no point in talking to a minister who resorts
to "taking the moral high ground."

8. (SBU) Comment: Such antics are uncommon in the Dutch
parliament. Dutch MFA contacts, perhaps relieved that
Koenders and Karimi had not been able to corner the
ministers, said the exchange was more reminiscent of the
British parliament. Bot and Kamp robustly defended the
Dutch role in Iraq and laid down markers for a future debate
on the renewal of the deployment. Even so, we anticipate
further tough debates leading up to a renewal, especially
since a decision will likely need to be made before
consideration of a UNSCR is completed. End comment.


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