The 34 nations assisting the United States with its operations in Iraq will soon be reduced to 33, as Iceland plans to withdraw from its participation in the NATO project. The move was met with disappointment on the part of NATO leaders.
On October 1st, the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) member working in Baghdad will leave the position. The decision was taken by Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir who says that for the last two years the position has mainly been one of a media representative.
The Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO and the US European Command, John Craddock spoke at a press conference in Iceland on the issue. After commending the country for its important and active role in NATO, he expressed his disappointment with their decision to withdraw from Iraq.
Gísladóttir says that although she made the decision to remove the UCRU ember from the NATO training program for the Iraqi army in Baghdad, it’s unlikely she will do the same for the Icelandic staff currently contributing to NATO operations in Afghanistan.
“In Afghanistan, NATO has a certain role to play on behalf of the UN, which a multi-national team supports, and we all know that the conflict in Iraq began differently,” the minister said.
The government of Iceland recently declared that it regrets the war in Iraq, a statement supported by Gísladóttir’s recent decision to withdraw.
Instead of participating in military operations, Gísladóttir suggests that Iceland provide support for development programs in Iraq such as educational programs for refugees from the country. She said that there are nearly two million refugees from Iraq in neighbouring Jordan and Syria.