Agustine Velloso: Should Spain Withdraw from Lebanon?

By Agustin Velloso in Madrid
Special to

It would be an irony of the eager Spanish imperialism that launched  itself on Arab lands if it ousted the PSOE (Socialist Party) in 2007 just like what happened to the PP (the Conservatives) three years ago. The PSOE doesn’t state the truth when it explains why Spain will keep its troops in Lebanon because they are part of a peace mission under a UN mandate.

The government will not remove the troops because it knows that the death of six professional troops is something Spain will endure, but it would be unsustainable if there were nearly two hundred civilians killed in Atocha (a subway station in Madrid). That is for the time being, because as Rober Fisk warns "the UN knows that its troops will be attacked again." (The Independent, 26 May 2007).

When this happens on a large scale, when Israel decides to avenge last summer’s defeat, when Syria or Iran are threatened or attacked, when the Palestinian occupied territories burn again, well, when there is a recrudescence in another tragedy in the Middle East, one will witness how this saga of the Spanish Left’s "enlightened" imperialism, inexplicably in partnership with the criminal western imperialism, will end.

The government can repeat forever that the military mission is one of peace and that the Spanish international position requires its presence in Lebanon and in Afghanistan, but it will not meet with Arab or Muslim approval no matter how many cans of condensed milk or blankets are distributed in the Middle East — they know that Spain is allied with Israel, the aggressor against Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and the main instigator of the war against Iraq and the possible one against Iran. If there are any doubts about this one only has to read in the Daily Star of Lebanon (18 Feb 2007) a report where the residents of Marjayoun stone Spanish troops and that that hasn’t been the only confrontation.

This government of "lefts" uses the mantle of UN mandates, sweet words about peace, and photographs of smiling Lebanese children next to young Spanish soldiers to hide the reality from the Spanish public:

That UNIFIL, the UN armed forces in Lebanon, has been in place for nearly thirty years and it hasn’t prevented the numerous Israeli aggressions against Lebanon, which have resulted in thousands of deaths, the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure and the planting of millions of land mines.  Not only has Israel not been punished for its aggression, but it actually benefits from the economic, political and military support of the "peace makers".

UNIFIL was established to confirm the removal of Israeli troops from Lebanon and to reestablish peace and security, something it has never obtained. Nevertheless Israel retreated in 2000 given Hezbollah’s potent resistance. Israel attacked again in 2006, but the Islamic resistance repeated its success forcing Israel to retreat.  The only thing that UNIFIL did was to take note and lose four soldiers which were killed by an Israeli attack against their observation post.

UN Security Council resolution 1701 extended UNIFIL’s mandate to "coordinate", "assist", and other hollow words, while in reality it is meant to server the US and Israeli interests.  Even today Israeli warplanes violate Lebanese airspace daily without UNIFIL doing anything about it except recording the number of violations. At the same time, the US hounds Hezbollah and concurrently further arms Israel.

Mr. Zapatero desires an impossible miracle: that Spanish troops in Lebanon serve "the cause of peace and solidarity", as he stated in the Spanish Congress, while at the same time selling weapons to Israel, joining Israel in military maneuvers, and playing along with the American policy in the region.  Many Spaniards don’t know what UNIFIL represents and what relations Spain has with Israel, but it is certain that Arabs do know and are displeased by it.

-Translated to English by Paulo de Rooij.

-A regular contributor to, Agust

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out