Italy Announces It’ll Withdraw Troops From Iraq
It sure didn’t take long for Italian policy to change after domestic furor surrounding the shooting of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and her now-dead Secret Service rescuer Nicola Calipari. Talk about a quick turnaround:
Italy is to begin withdrawing its troops from Iraq in September 2005, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said. He told Rai state television the pullout would take place “in agreement with our allies”.
Italy has 3,000 troops in Iraq – the fourth largest foreign contingent. Domestic opposition to Italy’s involvement in Iraq intensified after the killing of an Italian agent by US troops in Baghdad earlier this month.
The surprise announcement came as Italy’s lower house of parliament backed a recent Senate vote to extend the country’s military presence in Iraq beyond June. Mr Berlusconi has been one of US President George W Bush’s staunchest allies in the US-led war in Iraq.
But, he said, after speaking to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair he concluded that public opinion in both countries favoured a troop withdrawal.
The late President Harry Truman said: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Berlusconi is getting out.