The Dutch coalition government “collapsed” on Saturday due to differences over how the Netherlands should respond to a NATO request to extend the Dutch mission in Afghanistan past its scheduled end in August (“Dutch cabinet ‘collapses’ in dispute over Afghanistan,” BBC News, 20 February 2010).
The nearly 2000-strong Dutch force deployed in Uruzgan province has already had its mission extended once, in 2008. Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos and his Labour Party argued that the Dutch government had made a commitment to the Dutch people to stick to the August 2010 end of the mission. But Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and his Christian Democrats remained open to the possibility of keeping a reduced force in Afghanistan beyond the August deadline. The government collapse followed a marathon 16-hour cabinet meeting that failed to bridge the differences within the cabinet.
The Dutch have lost 21 soldiers since the beginning of the Dutch mission in Uruzgan province in August 2006.
Photo by ISAF Media