Spain's Aznar Internally Isolated on Iraqi affair

Only his party supports Bush's position to attack Hussein.

The Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, faces the sixth consecutive negative of the Spanish Congress to support Bush's plans in the Middle East. Additionally, the growing popular opposition to Government's foreign policy, over 75% according polls, called on a massive demonstration for Saturday in Madrid as part of the European anti-war movement.

According with the information published by the local media, national and communal forces will prepare a joint statement, in which they will ask PM's office to exhaust all the ways to find a pacific solution to the conflict and avoid war. The document is supported by the Workers Socialist Party of Spain, PSOE, the United Left, a coalition of communist and other leftist forces, as well as Catalan and Canarian nationalists.

The statement comes by the time German Chancellor Schroeder holds talks in Madrid about the Spanish position on the Iraqi affair. Aznar, backed by his party, PP, has been a strong allied of Bush on US foreign policy over the last years.

The United Left, IU by its initials in Spanish, had proposed a harder statement, but was rejected by the moderate Socialists. In such document, IU leaders urged the Government not to support in the UN Security Council any proposal that could allow the possibility of an armed conflict. Also, the final document will not include IU's about the use of Spanish bases by US forces.

On Saturday, a nation-wide day of protests against war is scheduled to press Government to abandon bellicose Bush-style rhetoric. Marchers will meet in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante, Valencia, Oviedo, Sevilla, and all major cities of the country.  Organizers expect a massive anti-war demonstration, which has already started in many national universities.

"We don't want Europe to be economically powerful but politically coward", said Francisco Frutos, General Secretary of the Spanish Communist Party, during a summit in Buenos Aires on January. "Aznar's Popular Party - PP - is the most servile and abject follower of the most dangerous world leader, George W. Bush", added Frutos, stating clearly his point of view regarding Government's foreign policy.

During the last weeks, Aznar faced repeated rejections to pass pro-Bush resolutions regarding the Iraqi conflict. The Spanish public opinion has expressed its opinion regarding the issue, but Aznar does not look like very much interested in listening to it. The protests scheduled for Saturday will be a test for the PP, looking forward the elections of May.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Olga Savka