Norway seems headed to a political crisis after one of the members of the ruling coalition threatened to quit over the government's decision to bring back a woman who joined Islamic State — a move that could lead to the government falling.
According to Norway’s VG, the family – a 29-year-old woman and two children – was moved from northern Syria to Iraq in preparation for them to be moved and repatriated back into Norway. One of the children, 5 years old, is believed to be seriously ill.
According to The Local, the woman is described as Pakistani and traveled to Syria in 2013 before marrying a Norwegian jihadist who was killed during fighting. NRK reports that the woman will be arrested and charged with participating in a terrorist organization upon her arrival.
“We sincerely ask that all actors respect the absolute protection of the children,” the woman’s lawyer said in a statement to VG. "It is the mother and family's urge that the children's travel to, and meeting with Norway, take place as gently and with dignity as possible. We will answer the questions the public is entitled to know about, but for the sake of the safety and need for the protection of the children, mother and other actors involved, we maintain that such a statement will only be given at a notified press conference after the mother and children are brought in protected environments on Norwegian soil."
But the move has sent shockwaves through Norway’s already fragile coalition government. The right-wing Progress Party, which takes a hardline stance on immigration, has opposed the repatriation of the woman but appears to have been overruled.
“The government negotiated with a terrorist,“ Progress Party lawmaker Roy Steffensen said. “The terrorist won.”
The party leaders say the issue comes on the back of them being ignored about other issues within the coalition.
"This comes in light of the fact that we have long had an absence of support for our issues, which is not why [the party] is in government. We want to make a difference,” leader Siv Jensen told NRK.
Jensen said she would submit a list of demands to Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who leads the country’s Conservative Party. But if the Progress Party pulls out, it could quickly lead to the dissolution of the government. Bloomberg News reports that Solberg would no longer have a parliamentary majority if the Progress Party quits.
"It has to happen pretty quickly because our cup is now full,” Jensen said.
The issue highlights the difficulty in returning former ISIS fighters to their home countries.
It’s an issue that has also led to tensions between the U.S. and some of its European partners. In a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron last month, President Trump said that European countries have not accepted enough ISIS fighters captured by the U.S.
“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? I can give them to you,” Trump said to Macron. “You can take everyone you want.”