After having driven away the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the American troops withdrew from that country in 2011. Meanwhile, in the neighbouring country Syria a civil war had broken out between all kinds of opposition groups and the incumbent president Bashar al-Assad. The radical Islamic group ISIS seized the opportunity to conquer large parts of Syria and Iraq. ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant). This group claims to have established a global caliphate, under the leadership of caliph Abu Akr al-Baghdadi. Islamic State claims to have religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide. In the conquered area oppression, exploitation and large scale executions take place. Many thousands of people have fled the conflict area. The recent Paris bomb attacks and the downing of a Russian passenger aircraft over Egypt show that ISIS is increasingly carrying out attacks outside the area it controls.
Developments in Iraq and Syria
In order to stand up to ISIS the United States and a couple of its allies carry out air raids in Iraq and Syria. The Netherlands takes part in this anti-ISIS coalition and deploys F16 fighters in Iraq in order to carry out air raids on ISIS targets. As far as Syria is concerned, the Government has opted for a political solution so far. Nevertheless the clamour for deploying F16s in Syria as well is growing. The fact that Russia now fights side by side with the Syrian president Assad complicates matters, as the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey shows. In Iraq the Netherlands is training Kurd fighters against ISIS.
During the debate on the budget of the ministry of Foreign Affairs minister Koenders said he wants to supply weapons to the Peshmerga fighters. He will consult with Germany on how to realize this as soon as possible.