Monday’s Svenska Dagbladet picked up on the subtlest, merest hint of a hint – but a hint nonetheless – that the Swedish government may be willing to rethink its long-standing opposition to NATO membership.
Whilst attending a debate on Finnish-Swedish security affairs the Foreign Minister, Leila Freivalds “surprised everyone by writing off the ‘Lindh Doctrine’ – that by remaining outside of NATO, Sweden has greater influence than if it were a member.”
Although she emphasised that at the moment Sweden doesn’t need NATO’s security guarantees, she said that “things could be different in future.”
Of course, not having a professional army means that Sweden’s practical contribution to NATO would be somewhat limited, but seventeen of the country’s generals who wrote to DN this week want to change that.
“New threats need to be met with new solutions,” they said, and called for 20,000 soldiers to be recruited on four-year contracts. 20% of these would be officers and the army would be supported by compulsory military service for both men and women.
“Terrorism, genocide, ethnic cleansing and the use of chemical and biological weapons are just some of the threats we must be able to deal with,” they warned.
And as if to prove their point, the Swedish embassy in Baghdad was hit by “a rocket attack” on Monday morning.
“The shell landed in the garden,” said Jan Janonius of the foreign department. “Nobody was hurt but we don’t know where it came from or if it was actually aimed at the embassy.”
The embassy was closed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, and since then it has been watched over by caretaker Ibrahim Ali Suza. His quick action in putting out the fire (“I poured water on it,” he told Aftonbladet) earned him a renewed invitation to visit Sweden – apparently Mr Suza’s “greatest wish after all these years at the embassy.”
“The cabinet secretary invited him a year ago,” Janonius told Aftonbladet. “But he says he won’t leave the embassy until it is staffed again. And it’s hard to say when that might be.”