New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has called out opposition leader Andrew Little for not having the “guts” to send New Zealand troops into Iraq to fight against ISIS forces.
But Little was not alone. Leaders of the Greens, Maori, United Future and NZ First parties also stood against Key’s decision to deploy troops to Iraq.
The prime minister’s decision involves sending up to 143 NZ personnel in a non-combat mission to assist in the training of the Iraqi military. The decision will be reviewed in nine months and last no longer than two years.
Little spoke of the mess the Iraqi army was in even after 10 years of training by the United States, and suggested New Zealand send aid in infrastructure instead.
The prime minister criticized Little further by noting the danger of sending civilian contractors, saying, “You can’t do them inside the wire, sunshine,” and argued had the opposition been in power, they too would have sent troops.
The former NZ Labour Government had sent engineers into Iraq and SAS combat troops into Afghanistan in the years following the September 11 terrorist attacks.