Sweden names former UAE and Afghan envoy as new security chief

Henrik Landerholm takes on the role as Sweden rewrites its foreign and security policies

Sweden has promised to upgrade its armed forces as a prospective Nato member. AFP
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Sweden has appointed a former envoy to the UAE and Afghanistan as its first national security adviser.

Henrik Landerholm will take on the brief as Sweden’s new government pivots from a “feminist foreign policy” to focus on security threats.

Mr Landerholm, a former platoon commander in Sweden’s armed forces, will oversee a new security council in Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s administration.

It comes as Sweden tries to finalise its Nato membership application following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are now living in a time where many different threats may be targeted at Sweden,” Mr Kristersson said.

“This places greater demands on our overall ability to analyse and co-ordinate measures to counter national security threats.”

Mr Landerholm was in Abu Dhabi as Sweden’s ambassador to the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait from 2017 to 2021.

Before that, he was the head of Sweden’s operations in Afghanistan, where Swedish troops were responsible for four northern provinces.

The new security adviser will report to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, above. AP

He oversaw reconstruction efforts in the north where about 7,000 people were stationed at a Swedish military camp.

Sweden now plans to increase military spending to two per cent of gross domestic product by 2026 as a prospective Nato member.

Mr Kristersson this month told Turkey, the main obstacle to Sweden and Finland’s membership, that Stockholm would meet Ankara’s demands to fight terrorism.

The government has also pledged to strengthen cyber security, Sweden's armed forces and the country's resilience to hybrid threats.

Mr Kristersson has promised a new security strategy as part of a policy shake-up after right-wing parties won September’s general election.

The Foreign Ministry has dropped the feminist credo that made Sweden a pioneer when it was introduced in 2014.

“In these dangerous times, foreign and security policy must be reoriented to meet the threats facing Sweden and Europe,” Mr Kristersson told MPs last month.

In January, Sweden set up a Psychological Defence Agency, run by Mr Landerholm, to counter foreign misinformation.

Updated: November 22, 2022, 11:43 AM
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