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Controversy over troops in Iraq

Norway sends the wrong signals if Norwegians soldiers remain in Iraq, said Sverre Lodgaard, director of Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).

The pressure against the Norwegian government is increasing as it was revealed that the government is considering prolonging Norwegian officers’ deployment in Iraq after the Norwegian engineer soldiers completes their mission in the end of June.

Jens Stoltenberg, leader of the Norwegian Labor party, appealed to the government Tuesday and urged to pull out all of the troops when the Norwegian commission ends June 30. The labor leader has support from the Socialist Left party and the Agricultural party, and the Progress party supports the notion that the officers should be pulled out if all the other soldiers are returning to Norway.

Increased hatred
Lodgaard, director of NUPI) claims Norway sends out the wrong signals if the commission of some Norwegian forces is prolonged.

Lodgaard claims the US broke its promise in connection to the Roadmap to Peace by supporting Sharon government’s tough line towards the Palestinians, and it has increased the hatred against Americans.

«In this situation, it is not in Norwegian interest to continue the military presence,» Lodgaard stated.

Symbolic value
Lodgaard stressed that the about 160 Norwegian soldiers and offices who are deployed in Iraq have a small impact in a military capacity for the occupational forces.

«The value is in the symbolic support that it represents,» Lodgaard said to TV 2 Nettavisen. «That is why everybody, solders and officers, should be sent home.»

Lodgaard stated that he thinks the US attempts to get the UN more involved has small chances of succeeding.

«Not until the Spaniards and others are pulling out, did the US offer UN a role,» Lodgaard said. «They are most likely offering the UN this a little too late.»

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