How the Netherlands assisted in the build-up of ISIS

This article is a translation of "Hoe Nederland heeft meegeholpen aan de opbouw van ISIS"

Amidst the commotion following the beheading (by a jihad tourist hailing from east London) of a Briton abducted in Syria, it is perhaps useful to recall to what degree the Netherlands has been involved in these developments. And not only by failing to put any obstacles in the way of our own jihad tourists, that is, until briefly before the NATO summit in Wales. 

I leave aside the period of the first Gulf War (to dispel Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991), and also the murderous sanctions subsequently imposed on the country, which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. However, in 2003, the Netherlands joined once again and in the absence of a UN mandate and against a strong opposition front including France, Belgium, Germany and Russia, nevertheless gave support to the invasion that terminated the rule of dictator Saddam Hussein and what remained in terms of an organised state and society. 

Of course that earns you the right to come and have a look at a fine piece of furniture in the White House, just as our ‘statesman’, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (pictured left), was appointed secretary-general of NATO. 

We were again a member of the coalition against Libya that terminated the rule of another dictator and also of that country’s state and society, which no longer exist in organised form. North Africa and the Sahel countries, to which Gadaffi’s regime lent a measure of stability in spite of everything, have been destabilised, and large migrant flows now cross the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece. 

In Syria in 2013, the Netherlands did not fail to be present again. And since NATO ally Turkey (one million men under arms) was ‘threatened’ by Damascus, whose 100,000 men were tied up hand and feet in a bitter civil war, we had to obey our NATO commitment and rush to the aid of our ally with a Patriot anti-missile battery, like our German neighbour.
War Is No Solution (O҂ was launched in protest against this mission, which in our view had nothing to do with the supposed threat, but was intended to back up regime change in Syria, support the build-up against Iran, and eventually, war against Russia.

In the Daily Telegraph we can now read that the former American ambassador in Ankara, Francis Ricciardone, has revealed that Turkey actively supported al-Qaida, of which ISIS is an offshoot. Riccardione, who left his post June last, explains that Ankara worked closely with Jabhat al-Nusra, a branch of al-Qaida, and also with other fanatical salafist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham. Although he pressed the Turks to close the borders to groups like this, they persisted in the hope of gaining control of a new regime in Damascus. The US (that is, the State Department) opposed this, because Washington had put its money on the Free Syrian Army—of which the heavy weapons have ended up in the hands of IS and which actually has concluded an alliance with IS in the meantime.

In the summer of 2013 ISIS, a.k.a. ISIL, and now the Islamic State, split off from al-Nusra to pursue a more hard-line policy. Following the capture of Mosul 49 Turkish diplomats working in the consulate in that city ended up in the hands of IS, and they remain there. The United States and Britain now want to intervene directly in the Syrian civil war again, this time with Australia as their latest ally, and under the banner of the fight against ISIS—which holds the keys to Syria’s back door. And all the time we are protecting the Turks against Assad!

ISIS today has supporters and recruitment stations across Turkey. Hence, whilst Bush still asked whether the Americans could operate from Turkey in 2003 (which was denied), John Kerry during his visit to Ankara last week has refrained from overtly asking for a Turkish contribution to the operations against ISIS. With 49 hostages and the Islamic State branched out all across Turkey, a too ostentatious involvement might have unforeseen consequences, even apart from the fact that the new president and his party are militant Sunni Moslems.

And the Netherlands? Our Patriots are still deployed there, at a rate of 42 million a year. For as we heard left and right at the time, we don’t abandon an ally (never mind they keep more than 100 journalists in jail), the Netherlands must be put back on the map, etc. etc. Will it ever end?

Kees van der Pijl

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