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The Norwegian forces in Iraq

This winter, the debate over whether Norway should send troops to Iraq or not break, or at least it should have. Most people have come to terms with the cruel ravages of ISIL and want to stop them, but there has been remarkably little discussion about choosing strategies to achieve this.


In response to the progress of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the summer of 2014, various states began to intervene in the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq, and later also in Libya. In August, the United States embarked on an international coalition against ISIL. Norway joined this in October. The mission has neither the UN nor NATO mandate, but the Iraqi government has asked for help, and a coalition has been formed against ISIL comprising over 60 countries and organizations led by the United States, in which Arab countries also participate. It was decided that around 120 Norwegian soldiers should be sent to Iraq, but the Ministry of Defense now states that the Norwegian force will in the long term consist of a total of around 80 soldiers. A core group has been established in approximately 20 countries in which Norway is a member. In other words, Norway is only a small piece in a big game. It is far from the first time Western forces are training Iraqi soldiers. After the invasion, the United States spent many years and hundreds of billions on training over half a million soldiers to the government, which collapsed during ISIL's progress. The coalition is to assist the Iraqi government along five priority areas, and Norway is actively contributing in all areas. These are efforts to fight ISIL militarily, halt the recruitment of foreign warriors, counter ISIL's ideology, halt ISIL funding and stabilize areas freed from ISIL's control. The Danish forces in Iraq. Recently, several cases have been printed about the Danish Iraq forces. It may be of interest to look at how the situation in Iraq has turned out for them, as they have the same mandate as the Norwegian soldiers – their situation can therefore tell something about what the Norwegian soldiers may experience. Denmark officially has no combat soldiers in Iraq. The 110 Danish soldiers at the Ain Al-Asad base outside Baghdad are in Iraq exclusively to train the Iraqi and Kurdish forces. But despite the clearly defensive nature of the mission, the Danish soldiers have the right to attack ISIL if they or their allies are attacked. The Danish Iraq force has great problems in teaching the Iraqi army. This is due to a lack of Arabic-speaking interpreters, teachers and people for self-protection at the base, where the rockets rain down while the teaching is taking place. The base huser in addition to the Danes, around 300 American marines and several thousand Iraqi soldiers. Norwegian forces on their way to Iraq. There are two conditions that have been important to clarify when it comes to the Norwegian soldiers in Iraq. One was that the security situation was manageable. The second was to establish satisfactory status agreements with the Iraqi authorities. This is all right now. The Norwegian contribution consists of about 50 instructors to the Kurdish region's capital Erbil in Northern Iraq and a contribution to Baghdad, as well as support staff and officer officers who will fill staff positions in the coalition's command structure in Baghdad and neighboring Kuwait. While Erbil's Norwegian contribution to capacity will be included in the capacity building contribution to Northern Iraq, where management will rotate between Germany and Italy on a six-month basis, the Norwegian capacity building contribution in Baghdad will be associated with a training center established within the security area of ​​the international airport in Baghdad. Norway has so far only had a small number of staff officers in headquarters in the region, but staff and support functions will now comprise about 30 people. On September 5 last year, a Norwegian C-130J Hercules landed with the first Norwegian cargo with emergency assistance in Erbil. Later, the Hercules aircraft was prepared for a new mission to northern Iraq. This time UN material was to be shipped to Erbil. Soldiers from the main airplane of Orland were considered as strength protection of the aircraft, but it was decided that Norway's transport aircraft would not be used in the mission, which meant that the soldiers from the Orland main airplane were not used. If Hercules is used as a transport aircraft to Erbil during the mission that is currently being planned, the force can be used as a force protection. The relevant force is the "Base Defense Combat Group" (BFSG), which specializes in defending aircraft and safeguarding the crew's safety. However, these should not be permanently detained in Iraq. To Valhalla. The Norwegian contribution will support Iraqi authorities with capacity building of the country's security forces, which means that they will equip the Kurdish forces for war against IS. They are not to participate in active combat operations, but Norwegian soldiers may be attacked at the bases where they are, thus having to defend themselves and be directly involved in the war. Soldiers from the Telemark battalion (TMBN) form the core of the Norwegian force. Many of them have combat experience from Afghanistan. During this mission, they were criticized by experts, including for spraying the skull logo known from the Marvel figure "The Punisher" at Afghan houses, where there were Afghans suspected of Taliban affiliation. The American Charles Stanley, who worked with the Telemark battalion in Bosnia in the 1990s, claims IS should fear them – because they rarely hold back and want to do a short process with all the IS soldiers they encounter. The battalion's battle cry bears references to the Vikings' Valhall, which attracted considerable attention in Norway in 2010. The Telemark battalion had to answer for the vocabulary, which was perceived as glorifying the war actions. A complex situation. Sending Norwegian soldiers, and perhaps especially soldiers from a battalion that has been described as a Norwegian version of the French Foreign Legion, to Iraq can be problematic – not least because of the complexity of the conflict. Thee Yezen, the man who earlier this fall took the initiative for the much-talked-about demonstration that caused both Norwegian Muslims and a united political Norway to stand together against ISIL, claims Norway with its war participation will only make matters worse. According to Yezen, ISIL arose because the Shia-oriented government in Iraq failed to unite the country's ethnic and religious peoples. The country's new prime minister Haider al-Abadi has tried to change this, but with little success for the time being, especially when it comes to Sunnis. Several Sunnis now support ISIL – not because they like Islamists, but because they see them as a better alternative than the Shia. It is also a fact that several Sunnis have backed ISIL after Americans began bombing terrorist positions in Iraq. The UN has previously warned that the US air campaign against ISIL has led foreign militants to swarm to the twin conflicts in Iraq and Syria "on an unprecedented scale" and from countries that have not previously contributed to global terrorism. Aim and means. In other words, there are a number of factors that point to the fact that entering Iraq will only lead to further escalation of conflict in a region that is already too much affected by conflict. Norwegian soldiers in war-ravaged Iraq will not change the war situation. This is done only to show that Norway is still a staunch NATO ally, and is hardly the best way to help, either in the case of civilian Syrians or Iraqis suffering from the ISIL terrorist campaign. "If all you have is a hammer, everything you see becomes nail," it says. Instead of addressing the underlying causes, we respond with symptom management in the form of what helped to cause the problem. It does not help if the intention is good when the consequences are so fatal. My question to the whole is therefore whether it is not soon enough that we realize that we must use other means than war, if what we want is peace.

Papazian is a writer and peace activist

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