March 15, 2005

Sgrena's Mission Accomplished: Italy to Withdraw Troops

Giuliana Sgrena has finally gotten her way. Islamist media already attributes Italy's announced withdrawal as a response to the Sgrena debacle. Expect more hostage taking (real or feigned) immediately.

Italy will start to withdraw its troops from Iraq this September, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said.

"We will begin to reduce our contingent even before the end of the year, starting in September, in agreement with our allies," he said in an interview on state television RAI on Tuesday.

Italy has 3000 troops in Iraq, the fourth largest foreign contingent after the United States, Britain and South Korea.

The announcement comes close on the heels of the eventful release of kidnapped Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena in Iraq on 4 March.

The release turned bloody following firing by US troops under controversial circumstances on the Italian entourage transporting Sgrena to safety.

An Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari was killed in the firing while Sgrena was injured.

Freed journalist Giuliana Sgrena said the US firing was intentional

The incident provoked widespread anger in Italy, with the governnment registering an official protest with Washington.

Berlusconi, considered Washington's closest ally in Europe, personally expressed anguish over the incident.

US President George Bush apologised for the shooting and instituted an inquiry.

But the resentment among Italians does not seem to have subsided.

And the other Islamist news agency, al Reuters:
Earlier Tuesday, Bulgaria's president said his country should withdraw its 450 troops from Iraq by the end of this year after a Bulgarian soldier was accidentally killed by U.S. forces. A final decision is expected by the end of the month....

The Dutch government, defying pressure from Washington, has announced it will pull its troops from Iraq by mid-April, while Poland is looking to withdraw its forces by the end of the year.

Just hours before Berlusconi announced Italy's partial withdrawal, an Italian solider died in Iraq during a target-shooting exercise. Some 21 Italian soldiers and five civilians have died in Iraq since the 2003 deployment.

Earlier Tuesday, Bulgaria's president said his country should withdraw its 450 troops from Iraq by the end of this year after a Bulgarian soldier was accidentally killed by U.S. forces. A final decision is expected by the end of the month.

The Dutch government, defying pressure from Washington, has announced it will pull its troops from Iraq by mid-April, while Poland is looking to withdraw its forces by the end of the year.

Just hours before Berlusconi announced Italy's partial withdrawal, an Italian solider died in Iraq during a target-shooting exercise. Some 21 Italian soldiers and five civilians have died in Iraq since the 2003 deployment.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:21 PM | Comments |