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Greens: SAS Return Will Sabotage Years Of Good Work

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Greens: SAS Return Will Sabotage Years Of Good Work

10 August 2009 - The Government's decision today to send the SAS back to Afghanistan is an example of strategic folly based on muddled thinking, said the Green Party's Foreign Affairs Associate Spokesperson, Kennedy Graham.

This afternoon Prime Minister John Key announced New Zealand would be sending further NZ deployments to Afghanistan, both a civilian team to assist in reconstruction and a force of 70 elite SAS troops - the SAS will be deployed over 18 months. This is the fourth deployment of the SAS to Afghanistan. The last time the SAS was deployed was 2005.

"Afghanistan is a troubled country and how the global community handles its reconstruction presents tough choices. The engagement of our SAS will compromise the legitimacy and the effectiveness of the work done by our Defence Force reconstruction team," said Dr Graham.

The NZ Defence Force's provincial reconstruction team has been successfully deployed in Bamyan Province since 2003 as part of the UN-authorised, NATO-led, mission in Afghanistan. "The way forward is not to send crack combat troops to engage in covert counter-terrorism activities there. The strategic way ahead is to maintain our provincial reconstruction team in Bamyan province and increase our civilian aid, as part of the authorised UN mission in that country.

"The Government's mistake lies in merging several separate operations and pretending that they are one," said Dr Graham.

"The US 'war on terror', known as Operation Enduring Freedom, has never been part of the UN's stabilisation and nation-building mission (ISAF). Nor has that operation ever been explicitly authorised by the UN, whereas ISAF receives annually-renewed mandates, the current one lasting until next month."

"New Zealand should be committed to helping rebuild Afghanistan," said Dr Graham.

"New Zealand is not at war, with terrorists, or anyone else. Those who commit terrorist acts, or war crimes, commit criminal offences and should be prosecuted. But that is not a matter of international peace and security."

"It is significant that the request for the SAS came, not from the UN Secretary-General of the United Nations, but from the US Secretary of State.

"All deployments of our armed forces should be in self-defence or explicitly authorised by the UN Security Council. The US request fails both tests. The SAS should stay at home," said Dr Graham.

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