While none can argue against ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) being a terror organisation that needs to be eliminated at all costs; Prime Minister John Key's decision to send 143 defence personnel for a non-combat mission in Iraq has more to do with international politics than anything else
It's official now. New Zealand has deployed 143 defence personnel in a non-combat role in Iraq, including 16 trainers who are helping train the local Iraqi forces in their fight against ISIL.
Reasons. Simply - and to quote the PM here who told Labour leader Andrew Little to “get some guts” on the issue - because New Zealand must “join the right side” and this is “what is in New Zealand's best interest”.
To be sure, ISIL's well-documented atrocities have united an international coalition of more than 60 countries. New Zealand is already a part of this with humanitarian contributions of $14.5 million till date. But this is the first time New Zealand's military is going to play a part in what Key called “capacity building” of the Iraqi forces.
The deployment at Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad will take place in May, will be reviewed after nine months and will be for a maximum of two-years. Moreover, New Zealand's military has already carried out such training assignments in Afghanistan over the last decade.
Notwithstanding the fact that some analysts believe “NZ role in ISIS fight will increase risk of attacks at home”, Key's decision is somewhat necessitated by New Zealand's geopolitical security and economic interests, as well as an innate desire to belong to “the club of Western allies”.
It's no secret that New Zealand is an integral part of the intelligence network known as the “5 Eyes” along with Australia, Canada, UK and US. Also, most of NZ's major trading partners are part of anti-ISIL coalition. Thus, sharing the burden of friends makes sense.
At least, this is what National-led Government seems to believe.
To read a brilliant commentary by NBR “ Is NZ being conned into war in Iraq?”, please click here