ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The four Dutch parties that are part of the coalition government are reluctant to respond to United States President Donald Trump’s call to take back Islamic State fighters, Dutch state broadcaster NOS reported on Monday.
Coalition government parties have different views on Trump’s request to repatriate foreign Islamic State members.
The US leader said EU countries should take back its 800 Islamic State fighters the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had captured in Syria and put them on trial.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” he tweeted on Saturday.
“The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.”
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD party, the progressive D66, and two Christian parties, the CDA and the Christian Union, formed a coalition government two years ago.
The D66 wants the Dutch government to talk to other European countries about the US request. “We have to have dialogue now,” D66 parliament leader Rob Jetten said, fearing the fighters could be released.
“If they come back to Europe under the radar, that’s absolutely not good for our security.”
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The leader of the CDA, Sybrand van Haersma Buma, told NOS he “never supported” the return of Islamic State members.
“The US is blaming Europe for something that is of their own making: a very big problem in Syria,” Buma said, adding Washington’s decision to withdraw troops “opens the way to chaos.”
Christian Union party leader Gert-Jan Segers, meanwhile, said the return of Islamic State fighters is “a big risk” because these “are people that committed war crimes.”
The Dutch government was in contact with the local authorities in northeastern Syria to look at the possibility of returning women associated with the Islamic State to the Netherlands.
However, the government said it would not actively return Islamic State fighters for prosecution in the Netherlands and is not willing to send officials to pick up the fighters due to the security situation.
During a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok told NOS the Netherlands would not take back Islamic State fighters. He said other EU countries do not plan to change their policy either.
“The statements of the [US] president do not lead to a different policy.”
Blok also noted that sentencing the fighters in Iraq was not an option because of the country’s death penalty.
“If they abolish the death penalty, the Netherlands could cooperate with this country,” he said.
Rutte refused to give a comment on Monday. In early February, however, he said the Netherlands does “not want to expose Dutch people to danger.”
Fenar Kyet, deputy head of external relations for the administration of autonomous northern Syria, told Dutch newspaper Trouw earlier this month that they are ready to bring the wives and children of Islamic State fighters to the Turkish border or the border of the Kurdistan region.
Abdulkarim Omar, the co-chair of foreign relations in the administration, told Reuters the authorities would never release the fighters but warned the fighters could escape if the SDF is attacked.
The local authorities in northern Syria have not yet brought any suspected foreign Islamic State fighters to trial, and have declared they do not plan to.
Many EU countries fear that due to the lack of evidence, Islamic State supporters could be quickly released once they appear in court after returning home.
Moreover, European countries have no diplomatic representation in northern Syria or legal obligation to pick up their citizens that traveled to Syria.
However, courts in both Belgium and the Netherlands recently ruled that their respective governments should bring back several women accused of membership in the Islamic State and their children.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany