Viewing cable 04THEHAGUE1164

04THEHAGUE11642004-05-11 18:56:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L THE HAGUE 001164 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2014 
¶1. (U)  A Dutch soldier on patrol near the town of As Samawah 
was killed May 10 when hand grenades were thrown into the 
open vehicle in which he was driving; others in his patrol 
were injured.  This is the first death of a Dutch soldier in 
Iraq, and the first death of any Dutch soldier in action in 
many years -- some say the first since Srebrenica in 1995. 
The Prime Minister cut short his vacation in Malta to return 
home and the Defense Minister cut short an official trip to 
Romania. In a statement to the press the evening of May 11, 
PM Balkenende expressed sympathy to the soldier's friends and 
family, praised the efforts of "brave" Dutch troops in 
working to bring stability to Iraq, and said this attack was 
not by the Iraqi people but by a few who want to sow "ruin 
and destruction."  He also quoted extensively from a message 
from the Iraqi governor of al Muthanna (where Dutch troops 
are).  According to PM Balkenende, the Iraqi governor said 
the attack affects Iraqis as much as Dutch.  The Prime 
Minister ended his statement by praising Dutch cooperation 
with Iraqis on the ground, and declaring that these kinds of 
incidents cannot stop the Netherlands from doing its work. 
He took one question afterward about the effect of the death 
on the government's impending decision about whether to 
extend Dutch troops beyond their July 15 mandate.  PM 
Balkenende replied that the government would look at all 
factors and was working towards a bigger UN role, a new UN 
resolution, and a request from the Iraqis to stay.  He said 
the GONL's goal is to strengthen the legitimacy of the 
multinational force. 
Timeline for Decision on Extending Dutch Troops 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
¶2. (C) The cabinet begins discussion Friday, May 14 on 
whether to extend the Dutch force in Iraq beyond July 15, 
when the current mandate ends.  For logistical reasons, they 
need to make their decision by the end of May  and then 
discuss with parliament.  Normally, deployment decisions are 
made with a super majority, but the opposition Labor Party in 
recent weeks has expressed serious doubts about a renewal, 
absent a significantly expanded UN role.  Worse, D-66, a 
small but influential government coalition party is also 
beginning to waver.  Doubters range from those with concerns 
about the safety of the troops and treatment of prisoners to 
those with an eye on the June EU parliament elections, which 
are seen as a straw poll on the relative strength of the PM's 
Christian Democrats and the opposition Labor party, currently 
the second largest party in the Netherlands. 
¶3. (C) The Prime Minister and Defense and Foreign Ministers 
are committed to troop extension, but need to convince the 
cabinet first and then parliament.  As the Prime Minister 
made clear in his press statement May 11, they want and need 
a new UN resolution, as well as a clear indication that Iraq 
wants the multinational force to stay. Both D-66 and Labor 
repeatedly express a desire for a greater UN role in Iraq. 
As for the Dutch military, they have told us that such an 
incident was anticipated, and that, in their view, it should 
not alter the decision to go forward with renewal, which the 
military supports.  Nevertheless, all concede that this is a 
political decision and the government's ability to prevail in 
parliament will be a function of events on the ground in Iraq 
and the state of play within the UN.