In a recent Colmar Brunton survey, almost half of New Zealanders polled did not support sending Kiwi troops in a non-combat training role to Iraq, and yet today the Prime Minister announced that 100 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) staff would be sent to help Australia train Iraqi soldiers to combat Islamic State fighters.
Many New Zealanders do not believe the case has been made for military intervention. The risks, including the likelihood of ‘scope creep’, and benefits of sending troops have not been debated in Parliament and alternative forms of intervention have not been properly discussed - alternatives like providing humanitarian assistance, using sanctions to cut off the flow of funds to the Islamic State or providing support to Kurdish groups already successfully fighting them.
The bottom line right now is that the New Zealand Government does not have a mandate to send our troops in support of US military action. Public opinion in New Zealand is divided, our parliament has not been consulted, and the Iraqi parliament has not ratified a ‘status of forces’ agreement, which would offer official protection to our forces.
The situation in Iraq is complex and tragic, but the Government must consult Parliament, and listen to the voices of New Zealanders.