Sunday 26 January 2020

Dutch are advised to leave Iraq, after deadly attack on general

The foreign affairs ministry. Photo: Kick Smeets / Rijksoverheid 2016

The Dutch foreign affairs ministry is recommending that Dutch nationals in Iraq leave the country ‘if this can be done safely’, in the wake of the US attack on senior Iranian military staff at Baghdad airport.

‘Unrest and violence have increased in Baghdad and around the airport,’ the ministry said in a statement. People are being urged to remain alert and to follow the news, because of the unpredictability of the situation.

The Dutch government has not yet reacted officially to the drone attack, which led to the death of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani and which marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

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Several MPs from the ruling VVD have said they are behind the US. ‘The US is rightly angry following unacceptable violence from Iran,’ MP Sven Koopmans. However, the US retaliation is a ‘risky move’, Koopmans said.

D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said that people in the region would breathe a sigh of relief now Suleimani is dead, but that the attack was ‘unprecedented, irresponsible and would lead to an escalation’.

The drone strike comes days after protesters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad. The Pentagon says the general ‘was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region’.

The Dutch ministry of defence has confirmed to the NRC that the Dutch will continue to be part of the mission to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, which is due to start at the end of this month.

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