Gov't grounds motion to send war planes against IS
In the latest stage of negotiations, the government has for now rejected a suggestion by Sweden's centre-right opposition to offer Jas Gripen fighter jets to help France in its fight against terrorist group IS in Syria and Iraq, news agency TT reports.
"The main reasons are that, so far, this is a legal grey area. That could change if there's a very clear UN mandate. But so far it has not been established by international law," Foreign Minister Margot Wallström told news agency TT on Wednesday.
What the government wants to offer France, in a "first package" estimated to cost SEK 40 million, would include 50-100 hours of Sweden's 160 hours within the international system for strategic flight transport. Sweden would also process France's demand for access to Swedish munitions.
The government also announced it would provide a Hercules plane to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in the spring of 2017.
However, members of the opposition were unhappy with the government's announcement, with Allan Widman, spokesman for the Liberals, calling it "a disappointment for France."
The spokesperson for the conservative Moderates, Hans Wallmark, warned that if Sweden does not offer enough support now, that could come back to haunt the country later. Wallmark told TT that in his party's opinion, what the government is offering is not sufficient.
"What we do now is what we can expect others to do for us, and this is altogether at too low of a level," said Wallmark.
The last time Sweden provided Jas Gripen fighter jets to an international military mission was in Libya in 2011. Those aircraft were used for reconnaissance only and were not allowed to be used for attacking targets on the ground.
This time around, the opposition Alliance does not want to rule out armed attacks which could take place both on Syrian and Iraqi territories.
The minority government's refusal Wednesday to send Jas fighter jets does not, however, mean Sweden has settled the matter, as negotiations among the parties continue.