Dutch opposed to new Afghanistan mission: poll

AMSTERDAM (BestGrowthStock) – A majority of Dutch voters are opposed to the Netherlands sending troops to Afghanistan, a poll showed on Sunday, underlining the issue’s sensitivity as the fledgling Dutch government mulls a new mission to the country.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday he wanted to set up a new training mission in Afghanistan, just months after the previous government collapsed over its involvement there and pulled its troops out of the country.

Pollster Maurice de Hond said on Sunday a possible new mission could form an “electoral hurdle,” noting that his survey showed 57 percent of respondents were opposed to sending troops to Afghanistan, while 34 percent were in favor.

The poll found only a majority of voters of the centrist Christian Democrat CDA — which governs the country in a coalition with the Liberal VVD party — supported a new mission, with 61 percent in favor and 26 percent opposed.

But Prime Minister Rutte’s right-leaning Liberal VVD is deeply divided over the issue, with 44 percent of its voters in favor and 46 percent opposed.

The Freedom Party of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, whose support is crucial to the minority coalition Cabinet, has always opposed a mission to Afghanistan and 78 percent of its voters would not support a new deployment, the poll showed.

Voters for the nation’s left leaning parties were also strongly opposed to a new mission.

The previous government collapsed in February after failing to agree on whether to extend its four-year Afghanistan mission and the Netherlands pulled out its 2,000 troops in August — a move some analysts say has reduced its international profile.

Rutte said on Friday he was in talks with opposition parties in the parliament to get support for a mission to train Afghan police or soldiers.

Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf reported last week the government was considering deploying a force of 50 police trainers and 250 to 300 soldiers to protect the trainers.

(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block)

Dutch opposed to new Afghanistan mission: poll