Repost of diary entry at EuroTrib for US readers
A bit off the media limelight, the Coalition (full name: Coalition of the Duped, Blackmailed & Bribed For Giving Humanitarian Camouflage To The US Occupation Of Iraq) is dwindling.
The Netherlands withdrew its last troops already by April 4. However, ten MP and 15 military trainers are at the Baghdad NATO mission. (In this light, the purported al-Qaida ultimatum to Europe last month seems to have been the work of the clueless and/or amateurs.)
In until now staunch ally Bulgaria, the Socialists recently won the elections, and withdrawal from Iraq was among their promises. The US ambassador instantly visited the election winners, I leave it to you to imagine what and how he tried to achieve. However, with not much success: now that the government formed, the newly designated Defense Minister reinforced the pullout promise (tough, saying it’ll start in the fall at the earliest).
Now let’s move on to The Double-Fakers: the countries whose governments tried to balance between appeasing Bush and appeasing their anti-war populations by making withdrawal promises with lots of conditions and possible excuses for delays.
First, Ukraine. Withdrawal was among Victor “Orange Revolution” Yushchenko’s election promises. However, during the interregnum between elections and taking of office, outgoing President Kuchma and PM Yanukovych pre-empted him by ordering a pullout after eight Ukrainian soldiers were killed by an IED planted into old ordnance poised for disposal(!) – so Yushchenko’s later decrets about a phased withdrawal were actually a step back – and one due for stretching too, for first the end of summer, then October, now the end of the year is supposed to be when it is finished. So far, two contingents moved out, the second in May, bringing troop levels down from 1650 to 1000. However, Yushchenko recently vowed to finish withdrawal, observers think he really wants to finish it to not be vulnerable in the campaign for Parliamentary elections in March 2006.
In Italy and Poland, there were always just suggestions of partial withdrawal. However, from a few snippets I have seen, in both countries such a move is gathering pace: both countries would reduce their thousands into hundreds, from a substantial force to a token one. (And ex EU Commission President, now opposition leader Romano Prodi promised full withdrawal if the Centre-Left wins the Italian parliamentary elections next year.)
Who remain, besides the three Anglo-Saxon warriors USA, UK, Australia (of which the first two lately tried the methods of the Double-Fakers):
The Fakers, that is the units of East Asian blackmailed-on-security South Korea and Japan, which are large but mostly reside in barracks guarded by other Coalition members. The Neo-Con Converted (countries whose elites swallowed the ideology, too): Georgia and Romania, which may even increase troop strength. A dozen others with token units – like Albania‘s 120 in the Bribed category (like most others – after 2 years, some of the East European Duped finally turned Bribed, tough with minimal sums), or El Salvador‘s 380, kept there even against the local bishop’s public opposition. The last-ditch US effort on this front was to bring in the Africans: 330 troops from dirt-poor, civil-war-ravaged Sierra Leone are now in Iraq.
Finally, there is the half-dead NATO training mission (Iraqi PM Jaafari or strongest Shi’a party SCIRI doesn’t really want them) – actual deployments and still valid promises* from the allies add up to just 169 (most of them promises), plus the US-UK’s 71.
* The promise by the government of the home country of yours truly, Hungary, of sending 150 troops to guard the NATO facility was a biggest, but leaks to Hungarian papers pointed out that this plan is now dead.