International Round-Up: Danish forces under attack in Iraq

Iranian missiles a retaliatory strike in response to the US assassination of one of its most prominent generals

Some 133 Danish military personnel based in Iraq were among those targeted by missiles on January 8, as Iran carried out retaliatory attacks in response to the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

PM Mette Frederiksen was quick to respond, revealing that at least 100 of the troops would be temporarily moved to Kuwait until the situation becomes more stable.

The Danes under fire were at an airbase in Al-Asad, and none were injured. The same was true of US and other coalition troops, based both in Al-Asad and the other target in Irbil.

At the time, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter that the attacks should not be seen as an escalation, but solely as a self-defence measure.

Presence since 2014
Ahead of the attacks, Danish Defence had already decided to temporarily halt all its training activities in Iraq.

While the Iraqi Parliament has announced it no longer wants foreign troops in the country, the Iraqi government has not asked the US and its allies to leave.

Denmark has deployed soldiers to Iraq since 2014 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, an international coalition formed to see off the threat of IS in Iraq and Syria.

The Danes have also pledged to send two separate naval contributions to the Strait of Hormuz in 2020 as part of a European-led mission.

Flying further than before
More travellers leaving Denmark are aboard medium-haul flights. The number flying 2,000-3,000 km rose by 35 percent in 2019 from 3.2 to 4.3 million, while the number flying 3,000-5,000 km increased by 31 percent, according to Danmarks Statistik. The increase in journeys less than 550 km was only 7 percent – proof that some people are thinking environmentally, but not enough.

Gang arrests abroad
Two men have been arrested in Barcelona in connection with aiding the escape of the gang member Hemin Dilshad Saleh from a psychiatric hospital in Slagelse on November 19. Both men are believed to be affiliated to NNV, which for nearly two years has been involved in a civil war with its parent gang, Brothas. Saleh remains at large.

London top again
London was again Denmark’s most visited travel destination in 2019, according to Malaga, Bangkok, Barcelona, Paris, New York, Rome, Berlin, Istanbul and Palma de Mallorca completed the top ten.

Powerful passport
Denmark ranks fifth on the new Henley Passport Index, which calculates the number of destinations passport holders can access without a prior visa.

Damning torture verdict
Hans Wolff, the chair of the Council of Europe’s Torture Committee, has delivered a damning verdict of the Ellebæk Immigration Center and Nykøbing Falster Holding Centre in Zealand following visits to the sites last April. The Danish authorities have three months to address how they can improve the situation for the residents.

Fighting bushfires
Ten volunteer Danish firefighters are heading to Australia to support BlazeAid’s efforts to contain the bushfires currently ravaging the country. The ten will be picked from the members of a Facebook page set up in response to the crisis. A formal offer to the Australian government from PM Mette Frederiksen to send 50 firefighters was rejected.

PM tough on fighters
PM Mette Frederiksen has ruled against distinguishing between men and women who joined Islamic State, thus ruling out the possibility of their children returning to Denmark. Many human rights advocates have warned that the government’s stance sets a dangerous precedent. One fighter barred from Denmark is suing the immigration minister, Mattias Tesfaye.

Killed on skiing trip
A young Danish man was recently killed in Gastein, Austria, after he skied into a tree.

Abuse video maker caught
A Filipino woman has been arrested in Manila for making child abuse videos featuring her own children following a co-operation between Danish and Filipino police. North Zealand Police contacted the authorities in the Philippines after it arrested a 63-year-old man from Nærum for streaming the video, who last year was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

Brazilian cocaine route
Two Brazilians have pleaded guilty to smuggling nine kilos of cocaine into Denmark – the second duo from the country to be stopped at Copenhagen Airport in December with the drug on their person. Elsewhere, Danes are among a gang of 11 sentenced to lengthy prison sentences for smuggling 14 million cigarettes into Denmark.

Charged with murder
A 22-year-old Dane has been charged with stabbing two people to death in Maniitsoq in west Greenland on December 18. In other crime news, a 21-year-old Dane has been arrested following an unsuccessful heist at a chemical plant in Helsinki to steal medical cocaine, and the number of smuggling-related arrests at the southern Jutland border has shot up over the last year.

Erection u-turn
Germany has set up more electric fences along its Polish border following the discovery of 50 boars infected with swine fever in western Poland. When the first pillar of a 70 km fence was placed along the German-Danish border, German politicians heavily criticised the erection.

Relief worker deported
Salam Aldeen, a Danish-Iraqi humanitarian relief worker whose arrest on Lesbos on December 11 was widely condemned, was deported three weeks later. He was accused of entering Greece illegally. In October he was banned in connection with his efforts at Team Humanity to aid migrants and refugees.

African migration talks
The minister for development, Rasmus Prehn, visited Berlin to discuss African migration affairs on December 12. Consequently the minister has announced a new contribution of 50 million kroner to the EU Trust Fund for Africa – to which both Denmark and Germany are among the largest donors.