US Asks Norway to Participate in Fight against IS in Syria

The formal request from the USA was received on December 3, writes Aftenposten. 

– I can confirm that, in line with a number of our allies, we have received a request from the US to an additional military contribution to the fight against ISIL, says Eskil G. Sivertsen, the Defense Ministry told to Aftenposten.

Talking to NRK, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Ståle Ulriksen, says the request from the United States puts Norway in a security policy dilemma.

– We are in a special situation with increased tension in the north in relation to Russia. When it comes to a stronger focus on contributing to Syria, then it becomes a bit problematic, says Ulriksen to NRK.

Jets, Armament, Special Forces?

Norwegian daily VG writes that Norway can contribute to the fight in many ways including sending fighter jets, Norwegian special forces and arming the fighters against IS. However, all of the possible scenarios have their own risks. 

Norwegian F-16 personnel has extensive experience and good references from war missions. However, Norway has few operational aircraft, as both pilots and technicians are on training for the new F-35 jets.

Norwegian special forces are also sought after internationally, according to VG. Yet, some are already in training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as at home for emergency situations. To operate inside Syria will face a heavy political opposition.

Another controversial contribution scenario is arming the fighters in Syria against IS. This option has the same political and financial challanges. Norway has little modern surplus materials in stock, and the country does not have tradition to help with arms and ammunition for other than close allies, writes VG. Especially it does not look to be a viable solution while there is uncertainty about how military material ends in chaos of Syria / Iraq.

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