From Iceland — Bombing Of Syria Sparks Divided Opinions Within Iceland's Government

Bombing Of Syria Sparks Divided Opinions Within Iceland’s Government

Published April 16, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Voice Of America/Wikimedia Commons

Members of Iceland’s Parliament appear sharply divided over the bombing of Syria, conducted by the US, UK and France last Saturday.

Iceland, while having no military of its own, is a NATO country. These two facts nearly always create contention within Iceland’s government whenever NATO launches an attack against another country, but the level of contention in Parliament now is almost as heated as it was when the US and its allies attacked Iraq in 2003.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir would not provide reporters with a clear yes-or-no answer when RÚV asked her repeatedly whether she or the Icelandic government supported the bombing of Syria. She said instead that her party, the Left-Greens, have “always spoken for peaceful solutions and continue to do so”. The Left-Greens had, since their inception, been opposed to militarism and even proposed that Iceland secede from NATO.

Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson, took to Twitter to release a statement on the matter, saying, “We must seek a political solution in Syria & ease suffering of civilians. Calling for greater efforts by UNSC in response to Douma. Use of chemical weapons should never be tolerated. Restrained and targeted attack by US, UK & France understandable in light of UNSC inaction.”

Contrary to Katrín’s and Guðlaugur’s equivocating responses, Borgar Þór Einarsson, the assistant to the Foreign Minister, told RÚV that the Icelandic government supports NATO’s statement on the bombing. This statement, which expresses full support for the attack on Syria, being supported by the Icelandic government effectively means that Iceland supports the bombing. This was confirmed by the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, saying that Iceland’s support was “natural”.

Other members of the Left-Greens, amongst them Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir, were more direct on the matter, telling Vísir that she absolutely did not support the campaign. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, and MP for the Centre Party and a former Foreign Minister himself, told Vísir that “there appears to be a lack of clarity between the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister especially, but I think the Foreign Minister was much clearer in his position than the Prime Minister.”

Further, the Pirate Party issued a statement saying that the UN Security Council had failed in their duties towards Syria, i.e., “to defend peace and security around the world”.

The Pirates say that Iceland’s support of the attack on Syria is “completely unacceptable”, as it “threatens that security of civilians in the area and hampers the international investigations on the use of chemical weapons”. They add that it would be more just to employ peaceful and legal solutions instead of “launching an unlawful attack with our blessing.”

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!