Dutch Special Forces to Afghanistan (2)
The Dutch socialist (PvdA) the largest opposition party does not support the mission. The Dutch socialist priority was with the treatment of the Afghan terrorists and Taliban fighters. They say the Dutch government has to little guarantees that the captured terrorist are not treated well and for example are send to Guantánamo Bay. They also say that they worry that Dutch soldiers can be prosecuted when ‘others’ mistreat their captured war prisoners.
Government coalition partner, the tiny socialist-liberals (D66) had the same objections as the socialists, but in the end voted in support of the military mission. They thought that operation Enduring Freedom, the battle against the terrorist, was of higher priority.
The Greens (Groenlinks) and the communists (SP) were against the mission. The List Pim Fortuyn (LPF), Geert Wilders (Groep Wilders), Christian Union (Christen Unie), Calvinist (SGP) were all in favor of the mission.
The Dutch Socialist could not be convinced by foreign affairs minister Bot who said that he would use the mission to maximize the pressure on the American to change the legal position of the enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan.
The Dutch government does not recognize the legality of the American argument that the Geneva treaty does not apply for these enemy combatants and that they can be kept imprisoned indefinitely. During his last visit, Bot told parliament, he had got the assurance of Defense under minister Wolfowitz, that it is possible to soon have a meeting with Dutch and American experts to discuss the issue.
But there is still a more pressing issue. Just like with the Iraqi mission there is confusion about the “rules of engagement” under which the Dutch soldier have to operate. The government says there is no confusion and that the Dutch soldiers operate under Dutch law and with special Dutch rules of engagement that are not the same as the US and UK rule sets. The Dutch justice will investigate incidents.
But the union of military personnel says there is confusion about the rules of engagement. That means that the Dutch soldiers are not safe from legal prosecution by Dutch civilian prosecutors. This is exactly what happened in Iraq, soldiers where treated as if they where civilian police men in peacetime. Dutch Marine Officer Erik O. who is still being prosecuted for firing a warning shot that allegedly hit an Iraqi looter. Also the Dutch military police complained, they have no military training and their people didn’t even feel safe in Iraq. They see it as big problem to investigate ‘incidents’ in a combat zone like Afghanistan. But politicians don’t seem to understand what war really is…
See also: Dutch Special Forces to Afghanistan (1)