The Green Party is calling on the Government to withdraw New Zealand troops from Iraq given the Iraqi army seems unwilling to fight the Islamic State, Green Party defence spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham said today.
United States Defence Secretary Ash Carter recently criticised the Iraqi army for fleeing from the Iraqi city of Ramadi when threatened by a far smaller force of Islamic State militants.*
“If the Iraqi military isn’t prepared to defend their country against the Islamic State, the New Zealand mission is futile,” Dr Graham said.
“The premise of New Zealand’s military commitment is training the Iraqi army. It is clear the Iraqi army is not equipped or prepared to fight the Islamic State so why are we there?
“New Zealand should never have sent any military personnel to Iraq in the first place,” Dr Graham said.
“With the exception of self-defence, New Zealand should never support any military action that is not explicitly authorised by the UN Security Council and within international law.
“Sending our defence personnel into Iraq was a foolhardy and risky thing to do. There is no clear way out.
“Prime Minister John Key needs to reconsider his decision to send our troops into this mess given the increasingly fractured state of the Iraqi army and pull New Zealand forces out of this Middle East quagmire immediately.
“The situation in Iraq is a humanitarian disaster, sending in military trainers is doing nothing to assist the people of Iraq. Our focus should be on humanitarian support. Not training an army unprepared to fight.
"New Zealand should pull out our troops and instead provide humanitarian aid through the United Nations and promote multilateral action, rather than striving to be assistant-deputy sheriff to unilateral action by the United States,” Dr Graham said.
*United States Defence Secretary Ash Carter: “What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight the Islamic State and defend themselves."