Spain's incoming prime minister
is promising to pull his country's troops out of Iraq if coalition forces there
are not put under United Nations control by June 30. Last Thursday's terrorist
bombings in Madrid continue to cause political fallout both within Spain and
beyond, as much of Europe takes a new look at its vulnerability to a terrorist
Many Spaniards believe last Thursday's terrorist attacks were the result
of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's decision to take part in the U.S.-led
military coalition in Iraq.
And, as a consequence, the Aznar government has now become the first administration
that backed the Iraq war to be voted out of office. George Parker, Brussels
bureau chief for London's Financial Times newspaper, said "there's no
doubt at all that the election result was turned on the terrorist attack which
we now think to be the work of al-Qaida and that clearly was directly related
to the Spanish support for the Americans and the war in Iraq.
With an overwhelming majority of Spaniards opposed to the war, incoming Prime
Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is vowing to pull all 1,300 Spanish troops
out of Iraq, unless they are put under United Nations control, saying the occupation
has gone poorly.
Meanwhile, Spanish authorities have arrested five suspects in connection
with last Thursday's train bombings that left 200 people dead, and are examining
evidence suggesting Middle Eastern terrorists could be to blame. Here in Washington,
the Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson has already drawn some
conclusions. "We're satisfied that there is some al-Qaida connection. The depth
of that connection and the total responsibility is yet to be determined," he
Across Europe, governments are taking the threat seriously, an indication
that they as well do not believe, as the Spanish initially did, that the attack
was entirely the work of Basque terrorists.
The European Union will discuss the continent's vulnerability to terrorism
during high-level talks Friday, while some experts, including British security
consultant Glenmore Trenear-Harvey are warning that other U.S. allies could
soon be targeted. "I would certainly expert before the end of 2004 a serious
incident to take place on the UK mainland," he said.
The Bush administration says it does not consider the Spanish elections a
setback for the war on terrorism. However, the loss for Prime Minister Aznar's
party comes just as the White House planned to mark the first anniversary of
the Iraq invasion with a series of events designed to showcase its successes.