Mark Rutte financed radical armed groups in Syria
Between 2015 and 2018 the Dutch government led by Mark Rutte sponsored a number of jihadists and organisations that violate people's fundamental human rights. When the financing problems surfaced, the prime minister began to mount obstacles to the investigation which, as a result, could only be launched in 2021, instead of 2018.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte tried to personally hinder investigations pertaining to the Dutch state providing financial support to the Syrian rebels. He put pressure on government officials to get them to reject the approval of the motion in parliament. According to the government’s view, the thorough inspection of the so-called “aid program” could create tensions between the allies.
Based on information relayed to Nieuwsuur, PM Rutte even spoke before the Council of Ministers in a bid to handicap the investigation.
Between in the three years from 2015 to 2018, within the framework of the so-called Non-Lethal Assistance (NLA) program, Mr Rutte and his government provided uncontrolled financial support to radical militant groups in Syria from Dutch taxpayers’ money.
In 2018 Nieuwsuur (the News Hour television program) and the daily Trouw newspaper already published reports about how some of the 22 armed Syrian groups – supported by the Dutch government – had violated basic human rights and sought active cooperation with the terrorists. The aforementioned groups have received from the Netherlands 313 vehicles, food and medicine supplies, communication devices, tents, uniforms and other items, worth a total of 25 million euros.
Almost three years after the problem was exposed, parliament approved a motion on the NLA program to have independent fact-finders investigate the issues surrounding the program, as well as the legality of the state subsidies. Sources close to Nieuwsuur say Mr Rutte tried to persuade several ministers that he did not want such a fact-finding inquiry.
Er is ruzie over een onderzoek naar de Nederlandse steun aan Syrische rebellen. ‘Premier Mark Rutte verdraait een paar zaken’, zegt zijn coalitiepartner CDA. Zal het onderzoek er wel of niet komen? #Nieuwsuur pic.twitter.com/Nr2kV5Q0wW
— Nieuwsuur (@Nieuwsuur) December 1, 2020
Earlier Foreign Minister Stef Blok stressed said that the investigation could lead to serious problems because “much of the information is classified and confidential, and the inquiry could also cause tensions between the allies participating in the subsidy program.”
The original goal of the NLA program was to provide non-direct military support for Syria’s rebels and moderate militant groups, supplying them with logistical equipment, food and medicine. But the program was discredited after it became clear that it was not so easy to determine which belligerent sides were actually moderate. As a result, groups that not only supported extremists but were themselves jihadis also received funding, and NLA was discontinued in March 2018.
Following this, Mark Rutte and his government were able to delay the setting up of an investigative fact-finding committee for three years. In the end, the motion submitted by CDA lawmaker Martijn van Helvert was approved by a large majority in the House of Representatives, and authorities launched an external inquiry into the matter.