April 18, 2004

'Coalition of the willing' loses a member.

Spain's new socialist prime minister is pulling his country's troops out of Iraq. Instead of waiting for the UN to assume responsibility for Iraq, PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is bringing Spanish troops home in 'as short a time as possible.'

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.

"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.

Spain has about 1,300 troops stationed in south-central Iraq, including around the holy city of Najaf.

The US has reacted angrily to the troop pullout, accusing the Zapatero government of caving in to terrorism.

Via BBC.

More: The AP has some more details on Spain's decision:

[Zapatero] noted that most Spaniards opposed the decision by his predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, to support the war, and said withdrawing the troops had been a longstanding pledge.

"More than anything, this decision reflects my desire to keep the promise I made to the Spanish people more than a year ago," he said.

"Driven by the deepest democratic convictions, the government does not want to, cannot and will not act against or behind the backs of the will of the Spanish people," he said.

He said the Spanish government would support efforts by the United Nations or European Union to prepare Iraq for elections and the handover of sovereignty, expected June 30.

Posted by Magpie at April 18, 2004 07:47 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |