Petition against sending NZ troops to Iraq gets support

More than 9000 people have signed up to a "not in my name" campaign in response to the Government's decision to send troops to Iraq.

Action Station director Marianne Elliott - a former human rights advisor at the UN Mission to Afghanistan - said the online petition had attracted support in its first 24 hours.

She said the Government has not made a case for sending 143 personnel to train Iraqi forces to battle Islamic State.

"Other options must be considered...the Government must consult Parliament and listen to the voices of New Zealand," she said.

A decade ago she documented violations in Afghanistan and supported New Zealand's role in the conflict. "We had an official mandate from the UN and the Afghan Parliament."

But she went on:  "No-one can claim the Taleban has defeated, despite the US alone having deployed more than 830,000 service members over 13 years, at a cost of US$537bn."

She said international military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have previously failed "at very high cost." 

"If we have learned anything from recent military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan it must surely be, firstly, that we cannot ignore the broader political realities of the region in which we are acting. And, secondly, our military intervention have so far failed to eliminate the threat of terrorism."

Elliott was speaking at panel discussion event at Parliament tonight. Also on the panel was British High Commissioner Jonathan Sinclair. Sinclair disputed her claim on Twitter, writing: "coalition air strikes stopped ISIL from threatening Baghdad in 2014."

Sinclair outlined to the audience the British case for military action. "The brutality [of ISIL] is staggering...how is this a threat to the UK? Well, what we face is a clear national threat as it is a global threat to our international partners...it makes no distinction between cultures, countries, religions." 

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Iraqi ambassador Mouayed Saleh, based in Canberra, addressed the Diplosphere panel, gathered in Parliament's Grand Hall. He welcomed New Zealand's contribution to the international coalition of 62 countries. 

"We are obviously very happy to see New Zealand," he said. The Government did not need ground forces, but wanted training, intelligence and technology. 

Victoria University's Professor Robert Ayson said if New Zealand was being "truly consistent" it would intervene in other conflicts, such as West Africa.

But he supports the deployment, saying the Government is bound by what its international allies choose to do. "You don't choose the bus, but whether you board it or not," he said.

The name of the online campaign echoes a social media campaign established by Muslims in Europe and Australia to protest violent acts by ISIL.

 - Stuff

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