From the PM’s ministerial statement to Parliament:
Last November I gave a national security speech which outlined the threat posed to New Zealand by ISIL.
This brutal group and its distressing methods deserve the strongest condemnation.
ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too.
It is well-funded and highly-skilled at using the internet to recruit.
Disturbingly, if anything, ISIL’s brutality has worsened since I gave that speech late last year.
In recent weeks we have witnessed a mass beheading and the horrific plight of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.
And we’ve seen stories of Western hostages who have been kidnapped and killed in barbaric ways.
ISIL’s outrageous actions have united an international coalition of 62 countries against the group.
The coalition includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Panam, Singapore, Sweden and Spain.
New Zealand is a country that stands up for its values.
We stand up for what’s right.
We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.
We do not shy away from taking our share of the burden when the international rules-based system is threatened.
We have carved out our own independent foreign policy over decades and we take pride in it.
We do what is in New Zealand’s best interests.
It is in that context that I am announcing that the Government has decided to take further steps to help the fight against ISIL.
The Iraqi government has requested support from the international community and has been clear with us that security is its top priority.
We have been clear that we cannot, and should not, fight Iraqis’ battles for them – and actually Iraq doesn’t want us to.
Our military can, however, play a part in building the capability and capacity of the Iraqi forces so they can fight ISIL themselves.
I have been open with New Zealanders that we have been considering an option to train Iraqi Security Forces alongside our longstanding partner Australia, in Iraq.
Such an operation would be behind the wire and limited to training Iraqi Security Forces in order to counter ISIL and legitimately protect innocent people.
Mr Speaker, the Government has decided to deploy a non-combat training mission to Iraq to contribute to the international fight against ISIL.
No surprise. It’s at the lower end of what we could do.
The deployment will be reviewed after nine months and will be for a maximum two-year period.
I’m glad it isn’t open ended.
We recognise ISIL is not a short-term threat and there is a lot of work to be done in the long-term.
Defeating ISIL will mean winning the hearts and minds of those vulnerable to its destructive message.
That will take time.
As I said last year, we have already contributed to the humanitarian cause and we are currently examining options to provide more help.
We are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts to counter ISIL and support stability in Iraq.
As part of this, we are looking at options to base a diplomatic representative in Baghdad to serve as a conduit between the Iraqi government and our military deployment, as well as assess how we can support better governance in Iraq.
We will also expand our diplomatic engagement on international counter-terrorism by appointing a new Ambassador for Counter Terrorism.
Many other countries have done this.
We cannot be complacent, as events in Sydney, Paris and Ottawa have underscored.
To those who argue that we should not take action because it raises that threat, I say this: the risk associated with ISIL becoming stronger and more widespread far outweighs that.
I know there is already risk.
New Zealanders do too, because they know we are a nation of prolific travellers who have been caught up in terrorist activity around the world many times before.
Mr Speaker, the Government has carefully considered our contribution to the international campaign against ISIL.
We are prepared to step up to help.
New Zealand does not take its commitment to Iraq lightly.
In return we expect that the Iraqi government will make good on its commitment to an inclusive government that treats all Iraqi citizens with respect.
Sending our forces to Iraq is not an easy decision but it is the right decision.
I would call it the least bad decision. There are risks. But the greater risk is leaving ISIL unchecked with their ambition to be a global caliphate. They are not terrorist. They are 7th century fundamentalists who wish to have the world live under their 7th century religious doctrine.
Tags: Islamic State
, John Key