Dutch gov't understands US assassination of Iranian general, Defense Min. says

Ank Bijleveld
Ank BijleveldPhoto: Defensie

The Dutch government understands why the United States assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in an attack in Baghdad on Friday, but the attack did give rise to a much more complicated situation, Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said in the first episode of talk show Op1 on Monday night, NU.nl reports.

"If you look at what Iran has done and what Soleimani is, he is of course no saint. That was a real crook", Bijleveld said. According to the Defense Minister, Soleimani as the leader of the Shiite militias can be held responsible for "terrible" things that happened in Syria. 

On the other hand, the assassination by the Americans resulted in Iran and its people finding themselves in a much more complicated and "very fragile" situation, Bijleveld added, calling it an escalation. "And that should actually not be allowed."

Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs will discuss this matter at the European Council on Friday. 

In a letter to parliament on Monday, Bijleveld, Blok and Minister Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation said that the Netherlands asked the United States for further explanation "on the legal basis put forward" for the attack. The United States called the attack on the Iranian general self-defense, according to the newspaper. The Netherlands asked for this explanation as a NATO partner of the US. 

The targeted rocket attack in Baghdad on Friday, in which Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader were killed, resulted in the Iraqi parliament supporting a resolution calling for the departure of foreign soldiers from Iraq. This in turn resulted in the international anti-ISIS coalition halting training missions in Iraq. This includes Dutch soldiers training Iraqi-Kurdish troops in Baghdad and Erbil.