March 28, 2005

Iraq - Italy Troop Withdrawal Update


On March 17, I wrote:

"Italy announced this week that it would begin the phased withdrawal of its contingent of 3,000 troops from Iraq as early as September of this year. This comes in the wake of increased Italian public opinion against Italian involvement in the war following the accidental killing by American forces of an Italian intelligence officer during the release of an Italian journalist held hostage. "

This week, Italy's prime minister, Sylvio Berlusconi, announced that Italy's reduction of forces in Iraq in September 2005 would be only 100 troops, subject to approval from allied forces (read: the United States) and with no timetable set for further withdrawals.

It would seem that the prime minister's earlier statements were taken a bit out of context, or he was simply playing to his domestic audience. The bottom line is that Italian troops will remain part of the coalition for the foreseeable future, and reductions will be consulted with the other coalition members.

So - a dose of reality, hardly the breaking down of the coalition as reported in much of the mainstream media.