Aznar Alone on Iraq

Prime Minister of Spain is being criticized by the public opinion for supporting Bush's position on Iraq

Prime Minister of Spain, Josй Maria Aznar, supporter of the policy of President George W. Bush's in Iraq, is being criticized by the public opinion and the political opposition for maintain this position. In fact, the Socialist Party, the main party in the opposition, is opposed to rejected a plea for the unit the war. The speech of Aznar in the Parliament to defend the government support towards attack of the USA against Iraq not convince the rest of parties. Before the speech of Aznar in the Parliament, the only political party that supported him in the subject of the war, retired its support to Aznar.

In Parliament, Aznar said that the person in charge of chemical arms of Al Qaeda is tied with the regime of Saddam, and has affirmed that he has taken refuge in Baghdad. Moreover, the policy of the Government has been described by Socialist Party as submissive to the directives of Bush. Gaspar Llamazares, general coordinator of Izquierda Unida said that “the managers of petroleum and the extreme North American right animate this war”. For Xavier Trнas, the spokesman of Convergиncia i Uniу, he does not see clear the “entail of Iraq with the terrorist group of Al Qaeda” and he does not think that it can be taken like a test.

In February 2, Aznar held a secret meeting at Moncloa Palace with Socialist Party leader, Josй Luis Rodrнguez Zapatero, but failed to convince him to support the government’s position on Iraq. Zapatero has refused the offer to reach some form of agreement between the two leading national parties on the Iraq crisis. It was the first meeting between Aznar and the leader of the main opposition party since September 12, 2001.

Aznar explains in press conference that Zapatero was making use political of the situation, since the municipal and autonomic elections are near. Aznar also criticized the socialist leader affirming that in 1991, in the first Gulf War, Popular Party (the party of Aznar) which are in opposition during the 1991, supported the socialist government of Felipe Gonzбlez. But Zapatero warned that the present situation could not be compared to the Gulf War, since Iraq had broken international law by invading Kuwait and that the international military action counted on the approval of the United Nations, but now United States was taking “unilateral” action.

Zapatero explains that Aznar requested him three times for “unconditional support for Bush” and that “three times I told him I could not do that”. For Zapatero, “the Socialist Party does not support a preventive attack on Iraq” and then he explains in news conference that they not support that war “because there are no causes and reasons to justify an action of this magnitude”.

Aznar accused the opposition of “opportunism” and “rancid isolationism” and Zapatero replied Aznar that was “power-hungry” and “lacked statesmanship” and was “not ready to assume its responsibilities”. The reality is that a survey carried out by Gallup International shows that Spain is the European State with the largest share of residents who are against war on Iraq. Exactly the survey says that 74 per cent are against attack Iraq under any circumstances, while a further 13 per cent would only agree if the action is sanctioned by the United Nations. The people who support an attack of United States and its allies are only 4 per cent. Socialist Party leader said that was calling on people to mobilizate against the war because it could help to ensure that “resolutions are complied with, that the inspectors can work and that we can avoid disproportionate and unjustified military action”

These days the Spanish population has made different mobilizations against the war by all Spanish geography. In the pride of delivery of the prizes to the Spanish cinema, the Goya, the people of the world of the cinema showed publicly their disagreement with a war against Iraq. And during the speech of Aznar in the Parliament, some members of the Academy of the Cinema were invited by Opposition Parties to be present in the Parliament, but finally they were evacuated to show t-shirts in which one could read one slogan: “Not to the war”. The Government sent hard critics to the Academy of Cinema, reason why they were not made wait for the answers on the part of the people of the cinema. Fernando Trueba, director of cinema said that “ we lived a little while in history in where the freedom of expression has practically disappeared” and Aitana Sбnchez Gijуn, actress, said that “it seems to me scandalous that there has been this reaction before a free expression of citizens, as citizen we must right to express to us, this it is an attack against the freedom, is a very facist attitude”.

Zapatero said that the Socialists also oppose Aznar's stance because they say it is harming the European Union. Aznar and eight other European leaders signed an op-ed article supporting the thesis of Bush to attack Iraq. France and Germany were not between the signers. This op-ed article is dividing the vision on the disarmament of Iraq because the foreign ministers of the fifteen countries members of the European Union had reaffirmed before in a meeting “the paper of the Security Council of ONU in the application of the resolution 1.441” and they said that “their responsibility (of the Security Council of ONU) is to maintain the international peace and that the security is respected”.

In one visit to Barcelona (city at northeast of Spain), Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, urged the European States to resolve their differences in order to have one voice and any influence over the issue. Prodi explains that “if we don't speak with a single voice, our voice won't exist and nobody will hear us”. Spain, along with Britain, was the only country to support the USA in UN Security Council vote following US State Secretary Colin Powell's intervention.

Aznar would be wining points in front of the Government of Bush to maintain the position of the war against Iraq, but this policy is causing that Aznar’s Popular Party loses voters in Spain. According to some analysts, this subject like the one of the Prestige, the collapse of the oil tanker in the Galician coasts, will pass invoice to the Popular Party in the next elections. An opinion poll in the newspaper El Pais put the Socialist Party two points ahead of Popular Party for the first time since the Prime Minister Aznar won re-election two years ago.

David Sendra

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