[EDITORIALS]Keep the commitment to IraqThe new destination for South Korean troops being sent to Iraq has been worked out. The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday Seoul and Washington agreed that Korean troops will go to either Irbil or Sulaimaniyah, both in the northern Kurdish area. Any discord between South Korea and the United States over the destination of the contingent appears to have been resolved.
It is promising that the two countries reached a new agreement by taking into account each other’s position during their consultations.
The two locations are inside the autonomous region of the Kurds, who have antagonistic relations with the rest of Iraq. The situation in the Kurdish area is relatively safer than Kirkuk, the initial destination of the Korean troops. Therefore, deciding on northern Iraq as the destination is acceptable because our soldiers will be safer in the region.
But there are still problems. The northern provinces were considered more secure until now, but there is no guarantee that the situation will remain stable. The Kurds may begin an independence movement, prompting clashes with Iraq and neighboring countries. Then Korean troops will stand at the center of the turmoil.
We cannot rule out the possibility that Iraqi resistance forces may also flee to the northern area.
The defense ministry, therefore, must prepare thoroughly for these possible outcomes. It cannot sit with folded arms and demand to change the destination after a couple of months if the security climate were to worsen there.
Some are also demanding that the government reduce the size of the contingent because the new destination has not suffered much damage from the war. Korean troops will not have much to do there, and the economic benefits of the deployment would be small, they argue.
But, we disagree.
Although the new destination will be relatively safer, the entire country is still in a wartime environment.
It is vital to maintain the strength of our contingent to protect the troops and provide practical support for the reconstruction mission. The promise to the United States must be kept, in particular, for the sake of the nation’s trustworthiness.