The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has reaffirmed Spain’s “commitment” to the “unity, sovereignty and stability” of Iraq during a Christmas visit to Spanish troops based in the country.
In a joint appearance with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, Sánchez also expressed gratitude for the country’s “efforts” to protect international soldiers deployed in the region amid rising regional tensions.
Spain has deployed more than 300 soldiers as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition and NATO’s mission in Iraq, commanded since May by Spanish General José Antonio Agüero Martínez.
The Iraqi Prime Minister, praised NATO´s support for Iraqi efforts in its fight against terroris, however, he also said Baghdad was “reassessing” its relations with the coalition and, reiterating previous comments, that it “is heading towards the end of the presence of the international coalition” stationed in Iraq since 2014.
The coalition, deployed to fight the Islamic State group, has faced increasing attacks since the start of the Israeli-Hamas War, most of which were claimed by Iran backed groups opposing Israel.
Sánchez again condemned the “tragic situation” in Gaza. “We reject the death of civilians, especially children,” Sánchez said alongside Al Sudani.
Sánchez visited the Spanish troops at a military base in Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone, where he thanked them on Spain’s behalf for their ‘efforts and sacrifices in favour of international security and stability’.
‘In Iraq, Spain has demonstrated for many years now our solid commitment to something that seems to have been questioned in recent years: multilateralism,’ he said.
However Spain has been critised for not supporting the US naval coalition to defend international shipping in the Red Sea.
The US, British and French navies have shot down dozens of drones and rockets from Iran backed rebels and Washington has documented more than 100 drone and rocket attacks against US and other coalition troops deployed to Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
In a recent meeting with Pedro Sánchez in the Spanish Congress, the leader of the Popular Party (PP), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, revealed that he had told him that “Spain’s decision for the moment is not to intervene; or, at least, not intervene under the conditions requested by the United States.”