Monday, March 15, 2004

Spain surrenders

Yahoo (Reuters) | Spain's Troops Heading Out of Iraq Under Zapatero
Spain's incoming leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero indicated Monday he would pull his troops out of the "disastrous" occupation of Iraq in a major swing from his predecessor's pro-American foreign policy..

Some analysts said it could be an alarming first case of Islamist militants influencing, by violence, the outcome of a major Western election.

But Zapatero called his triumph a first consequence of the Iraq war's unpopularity with Spaniards.

... Spain has 1,300 soldiers in parts of south-central Iraq. Critics of the government have argued that the Madrid bombings were the price Spain paid for backing the Iraq occupation.

"We have been very clear about the risk and the threat that we were all facing with this illegal war in Iraq, and unfortunately Spain has paid the price," Spain's likely next foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos told Reuters.

"The sooner we admit that the wrong policy has been made, the better for the future of the international community."

USA Today | Violence, outrage, ouster: A new tack for al-Qaeda?
n American politics, it's called the October Surprise: a dramatic, last-minute event that swings the election into the hands of the incumbent president. In Spain, that surprise came seven months early, a terrorist attack that turned a near-certain win for a pro-U.S. government into a stunning defeat with potentially ominous repercussions.

... "This event rivals 9/11 in terms of a victory for al-Qaeda," says homeland security consultant Randall Larsen. "They just influenced an election. That's a frightening development because it's only going to encourage them."

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