For the first time an Islamic country is taking command of one of the units of operation 'Enduring Freedom'. On 24 April the Dutch hand over control of the multi-national naval unit 'Combined Task Force 150' (CTF 150) to Pakistan. CTF 150 is an important part of 'Enduring Freedom', the US-led coalition operation against al-Qaeda and related terror networks.
Shortly after the attacks of 11 September 2001, CTF 150 was set up and since 12 December has been under Dutch command. The area of operation is huge: from the Strait of Hormuz and Pakistani territorial waters in the north, via the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and southwards to Kenya and the Seychelles.
The most important task is to prevent terrorists using the sea to launch attacks or transport people and weapons. One important second goal is for the countries in the region to become involved with CTF 150. However, formal participation in this unit is still sensitive in the domestic politics of most Islamic countries.
It's hoped that after Pakistan, other Islamic countries will follow. The current command-holder of CTF 150, Dutch commodore Hank Ort, sees Saudi Arabia as a good example of a country with whom they are going to have discussions. Another country that has expressed an interest is Kenya, and there will also be talks with countries like South Africa, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
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