RealNews

Australia turns down plea for more troops to protect UN staff in Iraq

Australia has turned down a UN plea for a contribution to a military force to protect its personnel in Iraq but will train a contingent of Fijian troops to do the same task, the foreign ministry says. A lack of security for its officials has been a key concern of the UN since a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including the special UN representative to Iraq Sergio de Mello, in a truck bomb blast at UN headquarters in Baghdad 14 months ago. The UN has been hampered by a shortage of adequately trained security forces in its aim to assume a wider role in Iraq and assist the Baghdad administration with planning for the national elections in January next year. As a key member of President George W Bush’s “coalition of the willing”, Prime Minister John Howard’s Australian government sent 2,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel to the invasion last year, but always intended to withdraw them immediately after the war phase ended.Since then, it has deployed around 900 personnel in roles such as air traffic control, training of the new Iraq army and naval patrols of the Gulf, but has repeatedly made clear it had no plans to increase this.Consequently, Australia’s commitment to the conflict remained a fringe issue during the election, with some experts saying it was because the country had suffered no casualties in Iraq. The government announced last week that the Australian Defence Force would help with training, equipment and logistics for Fijian troops after receiving a request from the Fiji government which has offered a detachment of 155 soldiers to protect the UN mission. Fiji’s Foreign Minister Kaliopate Tavola said each Fijian soldier was expected to earn the normal UN payment, about 50,000 US dollars a year while in Iraq. Contracted Fijian civilians are already in Iraq working mainly as security personnel.Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.