PLAYGROUND POLITICS

By Jason Moore

ALTHOUGH it appears that Britain and the United States are fighting the war in Iraq by themselves it mustn't be forgotten that Spain is also a key ally. n otherwords for the first time in recent history Spain is not a bystander, the government has given their full backing to allied troops. With 90 percent of the Spanish population allegedly against the war just why has Prime Minister Aznar made such an unpopular decision? I must admit I am very curious and for the last couple of days I have been on a mission to discover why? One of the reasons which Spaniards have suggested to me is that the government is concerned about Spain's North African neighbours. When Morroco invaded the small Spanish island of Perejil Prime Minister Aznar turned to the European Union for support. Little was given, with France, being singled out for special attention. Aznar, according to my Spanish sources, believes quite simply that if you are a chief ally of the United States you have little to worry about because they have all the necessary deterrents from economic might to military muscle. In otherwords it is better to have a tall and strong friend who can protect you when needed. This is what I have managed to establish over the last few days. I think that Aznar's Partido Popular will receive a severe punishment in the local elections in May however I doubt that his party will be severely defeated in the general elections next year. Aznar has taken a major gamble backing the U.S. His playground policy could reap important dividends for Spain. However, it is a very risky situation probably the most difficult of all three allies.

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