Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Appeasement, Spanish Style

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Xinhuanet) -- The United States said Monday that it is possible to consider the adoption of a new United Nations Security Council resolution to accommodate request by Spain for a UN mandate to maintain its troops in Iraq although such mandate is already available.

"It has been said that there needs to be a UN mandate for those troops. We believe there is such a mandate in (UN Security Council resolution) 1511," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said at anews briefing.

"At same time, we've also said that in the context of a transfer of sovereignty (to Iraqis) on June 30, a new resolution is possible," he said.

Ereli made the remarks after Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister-elect of Spain, vowed earlier Monday to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by June 30.

But Zapatero also indicated that Spain could maintain its troops in Iraq if there is a UN mandate after June 30, when the US-led coalition occupation authority returns sovereignty to Iraqis.

China View(link via a comment from vaara at Kick & Scream)

PSOE leader and prime minister-elect José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former European Union special envoy to the Near East and probable future foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, and Socialist EU Deputy Francisca Sauquillo outlined the central points of the future government's foreign policy.

"My government will be deeply pro-European. We will recover our traditional strong ties with Europe, Latin America and the Mediterranean region," Rodríguez Zapatero told a news briefing Monday.

Referring to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, he said George W. "Bush and (Tony) Blair should engage in self-criticism because you can't bomb a country 'just in case'."

He also confirmed that "unless the UN takes over in Iraq, I will withdraw Spain's troops before Jun. 30," the deadline set for the transfer of power from the occupation forces to Iraqi authorities

After many years of being tormented by ETA terrorist tactics, the Spanish have come to abhor terrorism more strongly than anybody else. Their rage was vigorously expressed in the anti-terrorism demonstrations that brought more than 10 million people into the streets after the bombings. The incoming prime minister, Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, echoed the public sentiment by declaring his immediate and absolute priority would be to combat terrorism.

The fact that Spanish voters have given the reins of power back to the Socialists, who opposed the war against Iraq, clearly reflects their decision that cooperation with the U.S.-led war has been neither an appropriate nor effective response to the challenge of eliminating terrorism.

The election result undoubtedly is a major blow to the Bush administration, which will lose one of its key European allies in the war. Zapatero said both Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair ``will have to reflect and engage in some self-criticism'' about their actions concerning the war.

It remains unclear whether the new Socialist government will immediately withdraw its troops from Iraq. Zapatero has vowed to bring Spanish soldiers home if no new development emerges by the end of June, when the United States has promised to hand power to a provisional Iraqi government. He also was keen to see what role the United Nations would be allowed to play in the process. He will make the decision after watching developments of the power transfer and the U.N. involvement in the process. His position that ending the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq quickly is the best way to fix the frayed international coalition against terrorism seems to be similar to the posture of France and Germany.

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