Sweden must ‘share responsibility’ for Iraq

Sweden must 'share responsibility' for Iraq
German troops are already in Iraq. Photo: TT
After announcing that she wants to send Swedish military staff to Iraq, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has told The Local that the move is designed to 'share responsibility' for tackling extremism.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström revealed over the weekend that she hoped her country could send military staff to Iraq, to train soldiers on how to fight against Islamist extremists.
Speaking to The Local on Monday, she gave more details about the plan, stating:
"The Government is now looking into the possibility of proposing to the Riksdag that Swedish military personnel be sent to Erbil, Iraq, to help train troops fighting ISIL. This would be an important contribution to show that we want to share responsibility for meeting a difficult threat…This contribution will not involve active combat."
She added that Sweden was already "part of the broad coalition to combat ISIL and support Iraq, a coalition that has brought together some 60 countries and bodies, including the EU and all EU Member States."

Margot Wallström first announced the plan on Sunday at the opening of a major defence conference in Sälen in west Sweden. Speaking about Iraqi government troops, she told Sveriges Radio:

“There is a lot we can teach them. They need advice and support. We would send instructors, this isn’t about sending combat personnel."

The Social Democrat Foreign Minister told The Local that she will be presenting her proposal to parliament in the spring.

She told Swedish media on Sunday that Germany could lead the training mission, with Finnish troops set to contribute as well.

Germany has already promised to send troops and weapons to Iraq.

Sweden has previously sent troops to Afghanistan, but was highly critical of America’s invasion of Iraq.

Margot Wallström told The Local that fighting extremism in Iraq and elsewhere was especially important following the shootings in Paris last week.

"This was a horrific act that shocked not only France but the whole of Europe and the whole world. The attack targeted not only the innocent people who were murdered and injured, but the very foundation of our democratic and open society, and free speech," she said.

"It is important that we now stand up and demonstrate our humanity and unity against violence, hatred and extremism. We will continue to seek effective and common tools to fight international terrorism, without compromising the fundamental democratic values we want to defend. We need to put a stop to recruitment for terrorism," she added.

Up to three hundred Swedes are already believed to have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside Isis.

Margot Wallström also used her appearance at the defence conference to reiterate her desire to take a tougher line against Russia, following reports of Russian planes in Swedish airspace and the sighting of two foreign submarines in Swedish waters in recent months.

Her comments came just a day after the new leader of Sweden’s opposition Moderates party, Anna Kinberg Batra argued that the country should reconsider joining Nato, a move backed by rising numbers of Swedes.

Sweden’s Social Democrat Party, which is in coalition with the Greens, is not in favour of becoming part of the organization.

"I have not seen any arguments for Nato membership that are convincing," Wallström told Sweden's Expressen newspaper on Monday.