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Old 03-15-2005, 08:15 PM   #1
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Italy to pull out troops from Iraq

Berlusconi to pull out troops from Iraq

PM forced into pledge after outrage at killing of Italian officer

John Hooper in Rome, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor
Wednesday March 16, 2005
The Guardian

Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, yesterday announced that he would begin withdrawing his country's troops from Iraq in September under pressure from public opinion.
"I've spoken to [Tony] Blair about this," he told a TV interviewer. "We've got to construct a precise exit strategy. Public opinion expects it, and we shall be talking about it soon."

British defence sources last night repeated the British government's stated policy that its troops will stay in Iraq "as long as is necessary and as long as the Iraqis want us".

Mr Berlusconi's comments about a precise exit strategy were "an aspiration" or "political guesswork", they added.

Mr Berlusconi, who is among President Bush's closest allies, has been under huge domestic pressure over Italy's staunch support for US policy in Iraq. Early next month, he faces a test of electoral strength and in recent weeks he has felt the full force of Italians' misgivings.

On March 4, a senior intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari, was killed by US troops in Baghdad after rescuing an Italian hostage. His death united right and left in appalled condemnation, with thousands of Italians turning out to pay their respects to the dead agent during a lying in state.

Mr Berlusconi dropped his bombshell last night hours af ter Italy's lower house of parliament, in which the prime minister's supporters have an outright majority, approved funding for its contingent in Iraq until the end of June.

Italian officials had already indicated troops would be withdrawn as soon as it was clear that Iraq could handle its own security. But Mr Berlusconi went much further than before in defining the outlines of a timetable. He said: "A progressive reduction of the presence of our soldiers will start from September."

He added that the phase-out would take place "in agreement with our allies". He was careful not to let himself be pinned down to a finishing date, saying that would "depend on the ability of the Iraqi government in equipping itself with adequate security and public order forces".

With 3,000 troops, Italy is one of the biggest contributors to the US-led coalition. Its forces did not take part in the invasion of Iraq, but were sent in afterwards as part of what Mr Berlusconi and his ministers have always insisted was a peace mission.

Yesterday saw Italy's death toll reach 21 when it was announced that a soldier had accidentally shot and killed himself during target practice.

In London, the government announced yesterday it was proposing an international conference on Iraq later this year to encourage the United Nations and other major organisations to kickstart the stalled reconstruction programme. A similar idea for a postwar conference was put forward by France a year ago but was blocked by the US, because it was proposed by a country that had spearheaded international opposition to the war. But the British idea is gaining widespread support, including that of the US and France.

The conference would bring together the countries contributing troops, those offering economic help, and the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other international bodies. British officials said that the Iraq conference is likely to be held abroad, probably in Brussels.

The proposal comes as the Iraqi assembly, elected on Jan uary 30, meets today for the first time.

But the Shias and Kurds who make up the bulk of the 275-member parliament have so far failed to reach agreement on the formation of a coalition government.

The assembly will meet behind the concrete blast-barriers and barbed wire that separates Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the US and British embassies and the interim Iraqi government, from the rest of the Iraqi capital.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story...438619,00.html
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from accessdenied.org

No clear picture had formed Saturday of what happened a day earlier when an Italian hostage was freed by secret agents only to be injured in a deadly shooting at the hands of U.S. soldiers on the road to Baghdad airport. Circumstances surrounding the Friday operation to release journalist Giuliana Sgrena from a month’s captivity by Iraqi insurgents remained as murky as the tidbits that emerged in two earlier cases involving Italians kidnapped and then set free in Iraq .

Neither the Italian authorities nor Sgrena, a 56-year-old reporter for communist daily Il Manifesto, gave details of the operation or said whether ransom was paid.

U.S. military authorities were likewise silent about the shooting tragedy in which Sgrena was hit in the shoulder and the Italian intelligence agent who led negotiations for her freedom, Nicola Calipari, was shot and died in the journalist’s arms.

Even the well-connected Italian news agency Apcom noted “very many obscure points in the more or less official reconstructions.”


The friendly fire incident provoked outrage in Italy, where the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been one of the Bush administration’s staunchest allies in Iraq, keeping 3,000 troops there despite deep public opposition.

What is known after piecing together statements from Sgrena, her boyfriend, colleagues, the government and news reports:

_ Italian intelligence agents, led by Calipari, worked for Sgrena’s release as they did last spring after the abduction of three Italian private security guards and a Polish businessman, and again last fall when two Italian aid workers were grabbed by insurgents.

_ The Milan daily Corriere della Sera said the agents set up shop at Camp Victory, the U.S. base near the Baghdad airport.

_ Negotiations gained momentum after the Feb. 16 broadcast of a video in which Sgrena issued a tearful plea for her life and asked fellow Italians to pressure the Berlusconi government to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

_ In the final hours of Sgrena’s captivity Friday afternoon, Corriere della Sera reported, a stringer for the Arab satellite television channel Al-Jazeera took Sgrena to the Italian intelligence agents. An Al-Jazeera spokesman denied the newspaper report, saying its operation in Baghdad had long been closed and no stringers remained in the Iraqi capital.

_ Officials said Sgrena was with her rescuers by 8:20 p.m., although the location of the purported handover is unclear. Neither Berlusconi, in a Friday news conference, nor Sgrena, in a Saturday interview with Italian state television, gave details on how or where she was released.

_ By 8:55 p.m., according to a statement from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, “U.S. soldiers killed one civilian and wounded two others when their vehicle traveling at high speeds refused to stop at a check point.”

_ Sgrena’s boyfriend, Pier Scolari, said she told him that the car wasn’t speeding. Sgrena subsequently told interviewers the car was traveling at “regular speed.”

_ The U.S. military said the Americans used “hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots” to try to get the car to stop. But in an interview with Italian La 7 TV, Sgrena said “there was no bright light, no signal, and at a certain point, from one side, a firestorm erupted.”

_ When The Associated Press in Baghdad asked the U.S. military to see the vehicle on Saturday, the military said it didn’t know where it was.
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Old 03-15-2005, 09:08 PM   #2
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Seems about right, I would not expect coalition troop levels to be maintained at the current level for more than two years.
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Old 03-17-2005, 02:16 AM   #3
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Just to let you know: this morning the newspaper says Berlusconi just expressed a wish, not something is really going to do.

As an Italian girl, I keep on feel shame for the person that represents us...
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Old 03-17-2005, 08:26 AM   #4
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I have in-laws in Italy from my brother's first marriage (they got divorced, he's now remarried and living here in the U.S.) and they can't stand Berluscone. My niece has been to two demonstrations in Rome against him and his Iraq policy, also she doesn't like his domestic policies.
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Old 03-19-2005, 08:27 AM   #5
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finally something that makes sense.........................................
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Old 03-19-2005, 12:27 PM   #6
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So why do Italians believe pulling their troops out at this point will help the Iraqi people who are trying to develop a strong prosperous democracy while terrorist continue to attack them? How does abandoning the Iraqi people help the situation?
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Old 03-19-2005, 02:09 PM   #7
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Berlusconi is listening to his people (a fine thing, Bush should try it). America started this, its our responsibility to finish it. Those who sided with Bush have been burned politically, and it's no wonder that they're pulling out.
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Old 03-19-2005, 09:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
So why do Italians believe pulling their troops out at this point will help the Iraqi people
Since you asked, I don´t think they believe that. I guess Italians think of the well-being of their Italian soldiers, and they din´t want any more Italian hostages. Fair enough, don´t you think?
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Old 03-20-2005, 01:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
So why do Italians believe pulling their troops out at this point will help the Iraqi people who are trying to develop a strong prosperous democracy while terrorist continue to attack them? How does abandoning the Iraqi people help the situation?


it has nothing to do with that, terrorism will never be defeated, under this aspect there should be troops until the end of history. the fact is one, there is too much blood flowing, i don't want to see death people anymore just because of the economic thirst of those politicians. it's enough
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Old 03-20-2005, 09:17 AM   #10
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Ummm....Bush is listening to his people.....he won the election. The MAJORITY of the people voted for him in the popular vote.
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Old 03-20-2005, 11:51 AM   #11
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berlusconi is a nut.

thank you.
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Old 03-20-2005, 02:32 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
Ummm....Bush is listening to his people.....he won the election. The MAJORITY of the people voted for him in the popular vote.
We're not talking overwhelming support here. That being said, the majority of people here are probably not saying anything about the war. So your point is taken. There certainly is not a massive protest.
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Old 03-21-2005, 02:08 AM   #13
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Originally posted by STING2
So why do Italians believe pulling their troops out at this point will help the Iraqi people who are trying to develop a strong prosperous democracy while terrorist continue to attack them? How does abandoning the Iraqi people help the situation?
Dear Sting2,
the problem is that here in Italy people don't agree with the fact that our troops are in Iraq simply because we don't have any idea of their work there.
we only got some news about killed soldiers, accidents and fights were the soldiers are injured.
I think that we are not against the fact that Italian troops are in Iraq, but against the fact that we don't know what they're doing there.
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Old 03-21-2005, 02:12 AM   #14
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Visit chrenkoff.blogspot.com and checkout his good news from Iraq series and you may find out a little more about what coalition forces are doing in Iraq.
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Old 03-21-2005, 12:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by lady luck

As an Italian girl, I keep on feel shame for the person that represents us...
As an American girl, I can relate.
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