2005/03/16

Italian troops begin pullout from Iraq in September



Italy, one of Washington’s most stalwart allies in Iraq, announced it could begin pulling its troops out in September, an acknowledgment by Premier Silvio Berlusconi that Italian public opinion is heavily against the war.

Word from one of President Bush’s closest allies that some of Italy’s 3,300 troops would start leaving Iraq within year’s end came as the Italian leader confirmed he is running to keep the premiership in general elections in spring 2006.

"We will begin to withdraw our contingent in Iraq before the end of the year," the newspaper La Repubblica quoted him as saying."The first reduction will begin by September."

Italy's center-left opposition, which was strongly opposed to war in Iraq, on Wednesday welcomed Berlusconi's announcement.

"About time, better late than never," said opposition leader Romano Prodi, a former premier and former EU commission president who is expected to be Berlusconi's opponent in political elections next year.

"It's the logical consequence of a wrong decision," Prodi was quoted as saying in daily La Repubblica on Wednesday. "This long-awaited news confirms our stance."

Hours earlier, Italy suffered its latest casualty in Iraq, the 21st military member killed since it sent in some 3,000 troops after the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

Italy is also still grappling with the shock and outrage over the killing of an Italian intelligence agent earlier this month as he was accompanying a just-freed Italian hostage to Baghdad airport.

This is the first time Berlusconi has given a timetable for troop withdrawal and although Scott McClellan says the death of Nicola Calipari has nothing to do with it I can't help but believe it does. The incident has no doubt heightened the Italian outcry against the war and Mr. Berlusconi will be seeking re-election. Like Bush he enjoys being President.

7 Comments:

"Like Bush he enjoys being President "

And like Bush, he's a fascist asshole.

Anyway, this is great news and shows once again that when ppl get down to the street, they can make the difference between a democracy resembling one instead of turning into an autocracy.

Spain, now Italy. Who's next? Is Tony Blair going to listen to his citizens too? John Howard?  

Posted by WhyNot
3/16/2005 01:13:00 pm  
Well, Holland and the Ukraine , for starters... 

Posted by eponymous
3/16/2005 03:25:00 pm  
And also like Bush, Berlusconi announced that he's lowering taxes for the wealthy.

Indeed public opinion in Italy has been vehemently against the war for over two years now. Last year when I was there, between 2-3 MILLION people took to the streets of Rome for the global day of protest against the war on March 19.

But if you remember back in the fall (right around the time of "You forgot Poland!" and that country's subsequent withdrawal from Iraq), Berlusconi stated that as soon as elections were held in Iraq, Italy would begin pulling out. In the Italian press, Berlusconi is literally saying "mission accomplished." Still a bit premature in my book--for democracy is more than putting a slip of paper in a ballot box. But all the pieces have fallen into place, and I'm pleased that Berlusconi realizes he has no choice but to pull out.

In the Italian media, no one has put "troop withdrawal" and "Nicola Calipari" together in the same sentence. Interesting. 

Posted by Francesca
3/16/2005 05:30:00 pm  
"Well, Holland and the Ukraine , for starters...  "

Yes, looks like the "coalition of the exodus" 

Posted by WhyNot
3/17/2005 04:26:00 am  
do we at least still have poland???  

Posted by angiekruger
3/17/2005 04:29:00 am  
Angie,

"do we at least still have poland "

Poland is to leave too. Here is a link Sarah posted in her "Tribute" article, and which shows the current and future plans of coalition membership:

Coalition of the Leaving 

I've also heard that Antartica is planning on withdrawing all if its penguins, but that's not official yet. 

Posted by WhyNot
3/17/2005 05:14:00 am  
Took the following from cia.gov. It off topic but I can't help myself. LOL

....seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national territory (some claims overlap) and 20 non-claimant nations; the US and Russia have reserved the right to make claims; the US does not recognize the claims of others.. .

 

Posted by Dianne
3/17/2005 11:26:00 am  

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