By Jason Moore
SPAIN supported the war on Iraq but did not send troops. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar decided that diplomatic support was enough. But now hundreds of Spanish troops have been sent on a peacekeeping mission in a war zone. They are not equipped for a prolonged campaign and they have been placed firmly in the firing line. Although there was diplomatic pressure on Spain to send the force I am sure that a similar sort of pressure was applied on Aznar to send troops for the actual invasion. Sensibly he didn't and he shouldn't have sent the troops now. It was a highly unpopular move especially as 66 Spanish peacekeepers returning from Afghanistan died when their chartered Russian plane crashed. There was little support for the war on Iraq in Spain and although Spain's force is small it is still a major gamble. The war on Iraq is certainly not over and Spain will probably have to send more troops because other nations are simply unwilling to get involved in what has become the bloody aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein. The last thing that Spain needs is for its troops to be dragged into a prolonged conflict against an enemy which is proving to be very successful in using terrorist tactics. Aznar should admit his mistake and bring the troops home before it is too late. Fighting will continue in Iraq for years to come, I suspect, and there will be even greater pressure on the coalition. Aznar obviously likes the friendship of President George Bush but he shouldn't risk Spanish lives to keep in favour in Washington. Diplomacy is Spain's tool in this conflict not troops on the ground.


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