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Spain to pull troops from Iraq

Guest donaltopablo

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Guest donaltopablo

There are a lot of ways to look at this. To me, though, it sounds like the terrorist bombings did exactly what they intended it to do. Shake the country and cause a change in government. Personally, this concerns me that they would bow down within days of the attack. What does everyone else think? I personally would consider this a victory for Osama.

Socialist leader vows to bring Spanish troops home from Iraq

Associated Press

Published on: 03/15/04

MADRID, Spain -- The leader of Spain's victorious Socialists said Monday that he will bring his nation's troops home from Iraq by June 30, fulfilling a campaign promise a day after his party's win in elections overshadowed by terrorist bombings.

The surprise defeat Sunday of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's conservatives marked the first time a government that backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq has been voted out of office and came amid charges that Aznar made Spain a target for terrorists by supporting the war.

Thursday's train bombings -- the worst terrorist attacks in Spain's history -- killed 200 people and wounded some 1,500.

"The Spanish troops which are in Iraq will be returning home," Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told Cadena Ser radio. He said the troops would be recalled once he puts together a government some time in mid-April and formally takes over as prime minister.

However, a party spokesman explained to The Associated Press that Zapatero sticks by his campaign condition that the 1,300 troops would stay if the United Nations assumed control of the peacekeeping operation in Iraq.

Of the 1,500 people injured in the Madrid attacks, 243 remained hospitalized Monday, with 11 in critical condition, news media reported.

In Sunday's election the Socialists defeated the ruling Popular Party, jumping from 125 seats to 164 in the 350-member Congress of Deputies. The conservatives fell from 183 to 148.

The Spanish stock market shuddered over news that Socialists will take power, with the benchmark Ibex-35 stock index dropping 2.4 percent at the opening bell. It was down 3.2 percent shortly after noon local time.

The conservatives' defeat was unexpected. Pre-election polls had projected the Popular Party, led by Mariano Rajoy, would win comfortably, and even some exit polls Sunday showed it might win.

But when the ballots were tallied, the Socialists netted 10.9 million to the PP's 9.6 million. Turnout was 77 percent.

Zapatero ran for the first time for prime minister against an entrenched government and won. "That broke a lot of precedents," party campaign manager Jose Blanco said Monday.

The circumstances were exceptional.

The train bombings were followed by nationwide street rallies against the attacks, smaller ones against Aznar's increasingly beleaguered government and the arrest of five suspects in the bombings, including three Moroccans, and a reported al-Qaida claim of responsibility in a videotape.

The tape raised the possibility that terrorists aligned with Osama bin Laden had changed the course of a national election. Spain's government has insisted its prime suspect in Thursday's rail bombings was the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

Zapatero said Monday he would attempt to form a purely Socialist government, not a coalition with other parties.

Late Sunday, Zapatero started his victory speech by remembering those killed in the railway bombings. "At this moment I think of the lives that were broken by terror on Thursday," he said, then asked the crowd to join him in a minute of silence.

"My most immediate priority will be to fight terrorism," he said.

The Spanish Socialist Workers Party ruled from 1982 to 1996 but ran afoul of corruption scandals and was voted out in 1996, when Aznar took power.

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Guest donaltopablo

The Bush Administration calls the Spanish decision a victory for the terrorists. I thought it was a victory for Democracy. The people have spoken that they don't support Bush's war of agression and voted out the scoundrels that supported him.

I consider it a victory for terrorists. Not because they elected the socialists. But because they did it a few days after a terrorist attack, when the they were clear going to loose the election.

If the socialists had been in the lead prior to the terrorist attack because the people did not support the war, it would not be. But when you change the way you vote because of a terrorist attack, then yes, in my mind the terrorists won and democracy won. I don't think it matters which way you vote, but when you change your mind based on a scared reaction to a terrorist attack, that is a victory for terrorists.

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I agree with donaltopablo. I will also add that the socialists lost to Aznar because of corruption (last time I checked) and dislike by the public. How much the socialists "cleaned up" since 1996 (if my memory is correct), we are going to see in the next 4 years (or less). As far as terrorist attacks go, neither the socialists, nor the conservatives could have prevented them, with without support for the US. Please try to understand modern Europe a little more and try not to see things the same way we see them here, in the US. Terrorist attacks always took place in Europe, for one reason or another. Not to mention, we still don't know for sure who is behind it. If Spaniards chose the socialists over Aznar's administration, I would think that it is not directly related to the war in Iraq... I strongly believe that more reasons caused the disatisfaction. I'll have to chat more with a close friend who lives in Madrid (she is a Spaniard), to get her perspective. Then I can speak with more certainty. The foreign newspapers that I read don't put more emphasis on the Iraq case than our own papers do. That's from my own experience, and it might change as more information becomes available.

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