Growing concern for safety of Finnish troops and diplomats in Iraq

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have been in contact with Sweden's PM as both countries have troops in Iraq, and share an embassy building.

File picture of Finnish soldier deployed to Iraq / Credit: The Global Coalition website

President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) have expressed their concerns for the safety of Finnish troops and diplomats in Iraq, after US President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iran’s top general, in Baghdad.

Qasen Soleimani was killed by a drone strike near Baghdad Airport on Thursday night and Iran has threatened to take “severe revenge” in response to his death.

“After the events in Baghdad the relationship between the United States and Iran is in a critical state” says President Niinistö in a Friday night statement.

“There is a danger of a cycle that is difficult to break. Its impacts threaten to extend also beyond the region. The international community must use all means to create a dialogue contact” the president says.

Finnish troops are deployed on a training mission to Iraq and until the end of December forces had been split between a base in Iraq proper, and a base in Erbil in the north of the country which is controlled by Kurdish authorities.

However the Ministry of Defence announced in December that all Finnish forces would co-locate in Erbil from the beginning of 2020.

President Niinistö has had discussions with PM Sanna Marin, and also with Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven about the situation, since both countries have troops stationed in Iraq and share an embassy building in Baghdad.

“The security of Finnish troops and officials must be guaranteed in the area. They do valuable work together with the international community” Marin wrote on Twitter.

Finland re-opened the Baghdad embassy after an absence of almost 30 years, in autumn 2019.