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Trooth
18 Apr 04,, 21:48
Spain PM orders Iraq troops home

Spain's new prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has given orders for Spanish troops in Iraq to be brought home in "as short a time as possible".
In a televised address to the nation, he said he could not ignore what he called the will of the Spanish people.

Spain's foreign minister has told his Egyptian counterpart the pull-out would be "within 15 days", the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Spain has about 1,300 troops stationed in southern central areas of Iraq.

Meanwhile, the top US administrator in Iraq warned the country's police and armed forces would not be able to secure the country against insurgents by the time the US hands over power to an Iraqi government on 30 June.

Paul Bremer's comments - aimed to defend the continued presence of US troops in Iraq after the occupation officially ends - came as 10 US troops died in clashes with insurgents or other combat across Iraq at the weekend.

A tense stand-off is also continuing in the holy city of Najaf between US forces and supporters of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

"Events of the past two weeks show that Iraq still faces security threats and needs outside help to deal with them," Mr Bremer said.

'No UN mandate'

Mr Zapatero said he had ordered the defence minister to "do what is necessary for the Spanish troops stationed in Iraq return home in the shortest time possible".

He spoke just hours after the new Socialist government was sworn in.


Mr Zapatero's election win last month was largely unexpected

The previous government's support for the war in Iraq, and its handling of the Madrid bombings, were thought to have caused its election downfall.

Immediately after his election, Mr Zapatero had vowed to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq unless they came under UN command by 30 June when their mandate expires.

His conservative predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, sent in troops in August 2003 in a move which led to huge popular protests across Spain.

"With the information we have, and which we have gathered over the past few weeks, it is not foreseeable that the United Nations will adopt a resolution" that satisfies Spain's terms, Mr Zapatero said.

Daily attacks

The United States earlier condemned the decision to bring the troops home, saying it is giving in to terrorism.

But the BBC's Danny Wood, in Madrid, says the majority of Spaniards support the decision.

Many believe the 11 March train bomb attacks were a result of the former government's support of the United States policy in Iraq, our correspondent adds.

Spanish troops play an important role in Iraq, particularly in the Shia holy city of Najaf.

Spanish troops stationed in Najaf come under rifle and mortar fire almost every day from militiamen loyal to the radical anti-US cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Afghan pledge

In November, Spain was stunned by the deaths of seven intelligence officers in Iraq, killed when their convoy came under attack outside Baghdad.

The BBC's Dominic Hughes, in Baghdad, says that with the US saying it needs thousands of extra troops on the ground in Iraq, the withdrawal of the Spanish forces will clearly be felt.

Mr Zapatero has said the fight against terrorism at home and abroad will be his administration's top priority.

And he has promised to double the number of Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan, where there is a UN mandate.

MAIN FOREIGN TROOPS IN IRAQ
US: 135,000
UK: 8,700
Italy: 3,000
Poland: 2,400
Ukraine: 1,650
Spain: 1,300
Australia: 850
Japan: 550

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3637523.stm

ChrisF202
19 Apr 04,, 00:58
All I can say is spineless coward, except to see more similar attacks in the countries that provide troops in Iraq, espically near election dates. Thanks Spain!!!!

smilingassassin
19 Apr 04,, 01:26
Well given the fact that the U.S. wants to increase its troop strength in iraq, Spains departure will be of little consiquence. Their added presence in afganistan will be an added bonus.

Ray
19 Apr 04,, 04:36
Spain has 1300 men. Not much of material difference I reckon.

Anyway, it is a sovreign nation and she can decide what is best for her.

s_qwert63
19 Apr 04,, 12:39
Anyway, it is a sovreign nation and she can decide what is best for her.


I totally agree, Spain's foreign policy is not America's business.

Lunatock
19 Apr 04,, 15:47
I totally agree, Spain's foreign policy is not America's business.

Then we shouldn't have to worry about them groveling for our help when the terrorists are emboldened and run amok on their chickenshit socialist leader.

ChrisF202
19 Apr 04,, 21:48
Well given the fact that the U.S. wants to increase its troop strength in iraq, Spains departure will be of little consiquence. Their added presence in afganistan will be an added bonus.

They are only sending 200 guys to Afghanistan, that is like adding a droplet of water into a bathtub, its all for show, it will have no effect. If they want to help they should send say, a battalion into the tribal areas of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier.

Confed999
20 Apr 04,, 00:56
Well given the fact that the U.S. wants to increase its troop strength in iraq, Spains departure will be of little consiquence. Their added presence in afganistan will be an added bonus.
They said double their troops in Afghanistan? They have 125 troops there, f**k Spain, that's worthless.

Anyway, it is a sovreign nation and she can decide what is best for her.

I totally agree, Spain's foreign policy is not America's business.
Until they make promises that affect others you are right, but now their actions put our troops, our people and Iraq in jeopardy. I'll say it once more, f**k Spain, they might as well be France.
:mad:

Ray
20 Apr 04,, 05:33
Confed

Once a nation commits itself, then I presume they should not change tack.

However, none can tell a sovreign nation what to do. Therefore, the only way out without getting stressed is to grin and bear it as the British do in case of tight situations.

Great chap, these British tuchkus.

Officer of Engineers
20 Apr 04,, 06:32
They are only sending 200 guys to Afghanistan, that is like adding a droplet of water into a bathtub, its all for show, it will have no effect. If they want to help they should send say, a battalion into the tribal areas of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier.

It'll be a PRT, meaning that they'll be stuck someplace where friends can't get there fast enough.

Trooth
23 Apr 04,, 18:16
All nations have a right to determine their own foreign policy. Its pretty unavoidable.

They also have a moral responisibility to honour their committments, however the committment needs to be evalutated. Spain is not a single person and as we have long debated, a great majority of individuals in Spain did not approve of the foreign policy.

The problem for Spain, the Spanish etc is that the Coalition of the Willing is an entity largely dreamt up by Tony Blair on his marathon world tour to try and turn "you are either with us or against us" into something that meant there were at least a couple of nations on the same side as the US (especially a couple of muslim ones). However, the problem with the coalition of the willing is that it is a vapour entity. It isn't a replacement for other groups of nation states, such as Nato or the UN. The coalition's mandate is non existent, the "body" exists purely as a device of public relations and approval.

The material impact on the US is, of course, tiny. However it is the symbolism of Spain's withdrawal that is of significance. It has started the dismantiling of the vapour entity by allowing other nations to withdraw. Again, materially none of them are of any great material benefit. But the coalition of the willing is not a military organisation.