Vote in a Socialist and what do you get ??? Troops moved from Iraq to Afghanistan
Fear of falling into disfavor with the U.S. government is palpable !!!
The following article calls Zapatero's choice to move Spanish troops from Iraq to Afghanistan an "INTERNATIONAL COMPROMISE" ... ???
What is going on behind the scenes?
Spain's New Leader May Send More Troops to Afghanistan
By KATRIN BENNHOLD,
International Herald Tribune
Published: March 23, 2004
MADRID, March 23 — In a move that might help muffle criticism of a Socialist pledge to pull troops out of Iraq, Spain's incoming prime minister is considering increasing the number of Spanish soldiers guarding the fragile peace in Afghanistan, sources in his party said today.
Less than two weeks after the deadly train bombings in Madrid, the incoming prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, wants to signal his commitment to fight terrorism and show the United States that Spain remains a loyal ally, said one of the sources, a high-ranking party official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
He added that the new government wants "to send a message that the Socialists do not believe in appeasement."
Since Mr. Zapatero's election victory on March 14, he has faced two tasks: responding to overwhelming opposition to the American-led war in Iraq among his backers and staying on the good side of the United States administration as its seeks international cooperation in its war on terror.
Mr. Zapatero has confirmed a campaign pledge to pull Spain's 1,300 troops out of Iraq unless the United Nations assumes greater control by June 30. Critics, notably in the United States, accused Mr. Zapatero of handing a victory to terrorists.
A decision to beef up Spain's military presence in Afghanistan may help the Socialist government find acceptance at home and abroad, said political analysts like José Miguel de Elías, director of the Sigma2 polling institute.
"It's a very interesting proposal, because it offers an international compromise while responding to a demand by the people to fight terrorism," he said.
There was no reaction from the United States Embassy here tonight.
As Mr. Zapatero continued with his planning for a new government, the police revised the death toll from the March 11 train bombings to 190, down from a previously reported 202, after DNA analysis showed that the count was distorted because of the problem of identifying body parts.
A traumatized population, hardened by years of regional terrorism but unaccustomed to such slaughter, expects a firm resolve of the government in the fight against terrorism, Mr. Elías said.
But Spaniards do not identify the war in Iraq with the war on terror. Close to 90 percent of the population opposed the military campaign last year, which was backed by Prime Minister José María Aznar and may have played a role in his party's defeat in the election last week. One of the main reasons the war was so unpopular was its perceived lack of international legitimacy, after the United States and Britain failed to win support from other members of the United Nations Security Council last year.
By contrast, the international force in Afghanistan has the blessing of the United Nations and operates under NATO command. In August, the European Union's chief military arm, Eurocorps, is expected to take over command.
With the United Nations, NATO and the European Union on board, increasing Spain's 125-strong contingent in Afghanistan would be a far easier sell than Iraq, Mr. Elías said.
Mr. Zapatero's government also hopes that by concentrating Spanish soldiers in an area still suspected of harboring some high-profile members of Al Qaeda, possibly including its leader, Osama bin Laden, the involvement would be more acceptable to voters, not least because suspicion of a link to Al Qaeda cells in Spain's recent attacks is hardening as the investigation progresses.
"In Afghanistan there was, in fact, a terrorist origin, and sending the troops was in legitimate defense of the United States, whereas in Iraq that wasn't the case," said the high-ranking party official, who declined to speak for attribution because it is "a matter that needs to be taken up after the new administration is sworn in."
The fact that the Socialists are considering shifting Spain's military presence from Iraq to Afghanistan suggests that their threat of pulling out of Iraq was more than posturing ahead of an election. There is little belief within the party that the United Nations will actually take over control by the end of June and make a withdrawal redundant.
While the Security Council is expected to pass a resolution that paves the way for the planned transfer of power in June to another interim Iraqi government, a symbolic text legitimizing the status quo without changing the reality on the ground will not deter Mr. Zapatero from his pledge, El País reported, quoting unidentified sources.
The party official close to Mr. Zapatero said the war in Iraq might have made the world a less secure place.
"Our disagreements are not with the United States itself, but with a specific doctrine of preventative strike, which we believe creates more insecurity in the world," he said.
Dale Fuchs contributed reporting for this article.
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