Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs is visiting Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates this week to discuss the tensions in the Gulf region, stressing the importance of deescalation and free passage in the Gulf. He will also visit Dutch frigate Zr.MS.
Three Dutch universities and a higher professional education were targeted by Iranian hackers, ordered by the Iranian government, over the past months, according to research by consultancy firm PwC. The cyber attackers were out to steal academic books and teaching materials, the researchers said, NOS reports.
"In this way the Iranian government wants to provide students in that country with knowledge," Gerwin Naber, head of digital research at PwC, said according to the broadcaster. "Due to sanctions, it is not always readily available."
Iran produces some of the world’s most highly skilled migrants, Bloomberg reporting that many victims in the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 tragedy were doctors, engineers and Ph.D. students on their way to top Canadian institutions. For those graduates pursuing careers in scientific research and tech in Iran, the infrastructure used by their overseas peers is simply inaccessible – meaning they have to do much more with much less.
The police arrested a 40-year-old man from Iran in Delft on Monday on suspicion of preparing an attack and participating a terrorist organization, the police said in a statement. The police started investigating the man in January based on information from intelligence service AIVD that he and others were preparing for one or more terrorist attacks in Iran.
A 22-year-old Dutch-Persian woman who had plans to vacation in the United States with her friends had those dreams crushed when she was not allowed to board her plane to Los Angeles at Schiphol last week. Annahita Mazaheri was banned from entering the U.S. due to her Iranian surname, she said to AD. The D66 wants to know whether the U.S. immigration service has the authority to refuse passengers on Dutch territory.
All Dutch soldiers stationed in Iraq are safe and together in the northern city of Erbil, including the around 10 soldiers previously stationed in Baghdad, Minister Ank Bijleveld of Defense said before the start of the Council of Ministers on Friday, NOS reports.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte to ask him how he dealt with the MH17 disaster. The call was in response to a Ukraine International Airlines plane crashing in Tehran on Wednesday, possibly after being hit by a rocket. All 176 people on board the Boeing 737-800 were killed, including 64 Canadians, RTL Nieuws reports.
Rutte "offered all the support that the Netherlands can offer" to Trudeau and Canada, a spokesperson for the Dutch Prime Minister told the broadcaster.
KLM is no longer flying over Iraq and Iran as a precaution after Iran's retaliation attack on American targets in Iraq, a KLM spokesperson said to NU.nl on Wednesday. Depending on their destination, flights will detour to the north or the south.
News agency AFP reports that Air France stopped flying over the two countries.
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.
In response to a drone attack by the United States on a Baghdad airport, killing an Iranian military leader, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the events unfolding in Iraq are "worrying and serious." The attack happened weeks before the Dutch military was to send a frigate and helicopter to help patrol the Strait of Hormuz, which the U.S. requested months ago.
The Netherlands will contribute to a mission to protect the important oil shipping routes in the Strait of Hormuz. A navy ship will be deployed to the Persian Gulf for six months, to take part in a mission led by France that is set to start in January, sources in The Hague confirmed to RTL Nieuws after reports by ANP.
The mission is expected to cost between 10 million and 15 million euros. The Netherland's role will mainly be an 'observing' one, according to the broadcaster's sources. The mission's headquarters will be a French naval base in Abu Dhabi.
The Netherlands played a crucial role in sabotaging Iran's nuclear program in 2007. An agent from Dutch general intelligence service AIVD infiltrated the atomic complex at Natanz and spread a devastating digital virus that delayed the nuclear program for years, the Volkskrant reports based on sources and its own investigation.
The Netherlands is willing to send a naval ship to the Strait of Hormuz near Iran to protect oil tankers against attacks, as the United States requested, but only if this happens in a European context, the Telegraaf reports based on sources in The Hague.
Dutch marines expect that there will be more skirmishes with Iran, should the Dutch government decide to agree to the American request to send a naval ship to the Strait of Hormuz near Iran. Though the Dutch navy is definitely up for the challenge and the risks involved in such a mission are limited, naval experts said to newspaper AD.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte will meet with United States president Donald Trump in the White House for the second time this evening. During the meeting, Rotterdam collector Bert Kreuk will hand Trump a D-Day flag he is donating to the United States. The main topic on the agenda for Rutte and Trump is trade, though Trump will likely also bring up the U.S. request to allies for a military contribution in Syria and to increase pressure on Iran, NOS reports.
KLM stopped using Iranian airspace for the time being, the company announced on Friday. The measure has to do with an American drone being shot down by Iran at great height earlier this week. "Safety is the top priority for KLM", the Dutch airline said in a statement, NU.nl reports.
"We are closely following all developments that may be related to the safety of airspace 24/7 and we are organizing the operation in such a way that the safety of flights is guaranteed", KLM said. "The incident with the drone is reason for us to no longer fly over the area for the time being."
The umbrella organization for Dutch shipping companies KVNR will be meeting with the Ministry of Defense on Monday to discuss increased tensions on the Persian Gulf. Recent attacks on oil tankers in the region prompted fears that more commercial ships may be targeted.
A Dutch ship rescued the crew of one of two burning oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the Dutch shipping company Acta Marine from Den Helder confirmed to NOS after reports in the Telegraaf. There were explosions on two oil tankers in the Gulf region on Thursday. The cause of the explosions has not yet been officially confirmed, but the general belief is that they were attacks.
The national coordinator for counter-terrorism and security NCTV expressed concerns about the fact that almost all of the Netherlands' vital processes and systems have been digitized, and that there are virtually no fall-back options. This makes the Netherlands insufficiently resilient and therefore vulnerable to digital attacks, the NCTV said on Wednesday, NU.nl reports.
The Dutch military training mission in Iraq was suspended due to an increased threat in the region. The nature of the threat is unknown. The commander of the international coalition that coordinates training in the region ordered the mission to stop, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said to NU.nl.
This temporary halt applies to all international allies who provide training in the area. Some 50 to 60 Dutch soldiers were ordered to cease their work "until further notice" due to an increased threat.
So far the investigation into the murder of electrician Ali Motamed in Almere in 2015 revealed no link to Iran, the Public Prosecutor said on Tuesday in a proforma hearing against the Naoufal F. - the man suspected of ordering Motamed's assassination, NOS reports.
The European Union placed two Iranians and Iran's military intelligence service on the European terrorism list after it was revealed that Iran was likely responsible for two murders in the Netherlands, NU.nl reports.
A group of around 10 protesters gathered at the Iranian embassy in The Hague on Wednesday. A number of them climbed over the embassy's fence. Others pelted the building with objects. The police arrested four of the demonstrators, the Volkskrant reports.
The protesters were shouting slogans like "Iran regime terrorist", according to the newspaper.
Iran is almost certainly behind the assassination of two persons of Iranian descent in the Netherlands, Ministers Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs and Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs wrote in a letter to parliament on Tuesday.