31st May 2020

European troops to police post-war Iraq

Five European countries - Italy, Spain, Denmark, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Ukraine -have all agreed to provide troops to help the United States, Britain and Poland police post-war Iraq.

The Europeans, however, remain split over what role to play in post-war Iraq and no final decision was made on the deployment of a multinational force to stabilise the country, when EU foreign ministers discussed the issue on the Greek island of Kastellorizo over the weekend.

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Various ideas were discussed at the meeting. One proposal for the future of Iraq envisages the country divided into three sectors - to be commanded by the United States, Britain and Poland - with troops from other European countries also involved.

France, Germany and Russia not invited

Some of the anti-war countries are opposed to setting up any new force in Iraq though, without a clear United Nations mandate.

Asked at a press conference what role the United Nations should play in post-war Iraq, US Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that a UN presence was not legally required to legitimise the process, reported the Washington Post.

Mr Rumsfeld said he hoped the United Nations would ultimately play a role and confirmed that 16 countries had met last week with the British defence minister, Geoffrey Hoon, "to discuss what role they might play".

"The larger the number of countries that participate, the fewer the number of forces from the United States will be necessary", Mr Rumsfeld said at a joint news conference with Mr Hoon, according to the Washington Post.

France, Germany and Russia, the three countries leading the opposition to the US-led war, were not invited to participate in planning for the stability force.

The meeting of 16 countries, which took place last Wednesday, was called the Interim Coalition Stability Operations Conference. The participating countries, in addition to the United States and Britain, were Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Qatar, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The BBC has been reporting, almost daily, continued protests in Iraq against the presence of American troops there since US-led forces defeated the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.


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