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Italy sets date to pull troops out of Iraq. Speculation over terror fears as 300 to leave in September

by : John Hooper
Sunday July 10, 2005 - 14:38
4 comments
JPEG - 8.3 kb

by John Hooper in Rome

Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, yesterday confirmed that he would start pulling his country’s troops out of Iraq within two months.

Speaking at the G8 Gleneagles summit, Mr Berlusconi said the withdrawal of the first of Italy’s 3,000 troops would start in September.

"We will begin withdrawing 300 men in September," he said, adding that the decision would depend on the security situation on the ground.

He said he had discussed the plan with allies and with the Iraqi government. But he added: "We will have to give confirmation" on the decision.

Mr Berlusconi sought to portray the move as a continuation of existing policy, noting that he had already announced plans to start withdrawing troops. In fact, Italy’s stance has been unclear since March when Mr Berlusconi gave conflicting signals about his plan.

His foreign minister, Gianfranco Fini, had most recently indicated that there would be no movement until early 2006.

Yesterday’s announcement was bound to prompt criticism that Mr Berlusconi was aiming to deter Islamist terrorists from striking at Italy next.

The announcement came amid growing concern in Italy that his government’s staunch backing for the policies of the Bush administration had put Rome or Milan next in line for an al-Qaida attack.

Mr Berlusconi warned on Thursday that Italians were "exposed" to terrorist attacks, and yesterday one of his ministers, Roberto Calderoli, said: "It is clear that, after New York, Madrid and London, Italy represents the terrorists’ most likely short-term objective."

Mr Berlusconi himself said yesterday that his country was directly in the firing line.

"There is a war on against the west by people who want to show our civilisation is evil," he said. "Even intelligence from other countries shows the three Bs - Bush, Berlusconi and Blair - are consid ered the most exposed to this type of risk."

Mr Calderoli added: "The moment has come to start thinking of our own interests." His remark prompted scornful disavowals from several of Mr Berlusconi’s other supporters, one of whom said a withdrawal from Iraq would mean "fleeing in the face of terror".

Two different groups claiming affiliation to al Qaeda have warned of attacks on Italy within the past 24 hours.

One group, calling itself the Organisation of al Qaida-Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, described Rome as "the capital of infidels" yesterday. Mr Berlusconi’s rightwing government, which faces a general election in less than a year, is vulnerable on Iraq.

Despite the fact that public opinion was overwhelmingly against the invasion, Italy today is the third-biggest contributor of troops to the US-led coalition after the US and Britain. Its forces did not help invade Iraq, but were sent in afterwards as part of what Mr Berlusconi and his ministers have always insisted is a peace mission.

Doubts over the government’s policies surged into the open in March when an Italian intelligence officer was shot dead by US troops while on a hostage rescue mission.

Shortly afterwards Mr Berlusconi spoke for the first time of a troop withdrawal in the autumn.

Speaking on television, he said: "A progressive reduction of the presence of our soldiers will start from September."

However, following a telephone call from President Bush Mr Berlusconi changed his stance, saying troop withdrawal was merely "a hope".

Italy’s normally cordial relations with the US were again strained last month after an Italian judge ordered the arrest of 13 American agents accused of seizing a terrorist suspect on the streets of Milan and flying him out of the country.

The government has said it was not warned of the operation.

The Italian authorities were quick to react to Thursday’s bombings in London.

Extra plainclothes police were deployed to guard public transport, security was tightened at airports and more than 13,000 "sensitive sites" were under special guard.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Stor...



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> Italy sets date to pull troops out of Iraq. Speculation over terror fears as 300 to leave in September
Monday July 11 - 01:03 - Posted by 1c87d6a9ec8aee09...

Yes think of your own interest. Especial if all Iraqi oil has already been given to countries like Britain and USA. Coincidence?

Europeans should abandon the mafia structures of Britain and USA.




> Italy sets date to pull troops out of Iraq. Speculation over terror fears as 300 to leave in September
Wednesday July 20 - 04:43 - Posted by 08c66e71134ee05e...

The Zionist Adders are to go crazy .
Ariel probably has already given orders.

Italy should all be prepared for False Flag Ops by CIA/MOSSAD




> Italy sets date to pull troops out of Iraq. Speculation over terror fears as 300 to leave in September
Friday July 22 - 11:41 - Posted by 1ebd73fbe1f545ca...

It’s Berlosconi the selfish fascist trying to save his own skin.
After Madrid and London it doesn’t take a genius to figure out Rome would be bombed next.
The political fall out form this and the disdain he’d receive from the Italian populace would lead to the Mussolini loving bastards downfall.



> Italy sets date to pull troops out of Iraq. Speculation over terror fears as 300 to leave in September
Thursday July 28 - 09:26 - Posted by 27137ac02089d7f2...

Berlosconi is already only barely hanging onto his position due to the fact that he is corrupt, he is involved in the mafia and the mafia’s banks. Most Italians know this and would like him gone. As with the other enlightened people in Europe, the Italians do not support Bush’s war in Iraq so Berlosconi is waking up to the fact that he can not continue to aid and abbet Bush any longer taking the chance that Italian citizens will be the next target of retaliation.






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