Polish troops under attack in Iraq - Will it have the Spanish effect?

Poles on patrol in Iraq

The Polish Ministry of Defence has announced that a public debate on the presence of Polish troops in Iraq should be engaged in after the upcoming election, due to take place on October 21st. Government officials are annoyed that the Opposition parties have been using the issue against them, knowing that the vast majority of Poles favour a rapid withdrawal from the theatre of war.

The logic of the Polish government is the same as all governments of coalition forces currently stationed in Iraq - that one should not criticise the national army who are engaged in fierce combat, as it reduces their morale and only aids 'terrorists.'

The call comes after the chiefly Polish military base at Diwaniyah, 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, came under attack by Shiite insurgents. 5 civilians and 2 Polish soldiers were injured in the mortar and machine gun attack. A further 20 civilians were reported as wounded.

All opposition parties in Poland are currently calling for a planned withdrawal of Polish soldiers by next year, but the current conservative government of PiS believe withdrawal amounts to 'desertion.' Approximately 900 troops are currently based in the occupied war zone. The militants who carried out the attack claimed it was a response to Polish soldiers involvement in the torture of Iraqi detainees. The Polish military have denied the allegations.

Reuters Television received a video on Sunday from militants called the Imam Hussein Brigades and Imam Moussa al-Kadhim Brigades. The spokesman for the Shiite groups said Poland
had allied with the "devil" America to kill Iraqis.
Reading from a prepared statement he continued:
"The attacks are a clear message to Poland -- Leave Iraq before you drown in its swamp as Britain did."
The reference to Britain is connected to the recent announcement by Brown's New Labour government that they will reduce their troops by 50% to 2,500 from next spring.

1st Polish soldier killed in Iraq, Major Hieronim Kupczyk - November, 2003

The reader of the prepared statement followed on:
"We want to tell Poland that all its interests in Iraq will be targeted by our resistance, including the diplomats, companies and troops. We only exclude journalists......The attacks are a natural reaction to what the Polish troops are doing in Diwaniya, from killing to detentions and torturing of the people in Diwaniya.

In an unusual twist, the Shiite speaker also said
"We know you were under occupation and how much you suffered, remember how much you suffered,"
referring to Poland's tragic past under Nazi and Soviet occupation.

This latest attack follows an assassination attempt on the Polish ambassador and army general Edward Pietrzyk 2 weeks ago, in which his bodyguard and an Iraqi died.
Pietrzyk's condition in hospital remain quite serious though he has successfully come out of a coma. Further attacks were carried out 5 days later close by to the Polish embassy though no Poles were injured nor was the embassy damaged.

Political commentators believe the militants are trying to enforce the 'Spanish effect' upon the Polish government, recalling the disastrous effects of the Madrid bombings for Aznar's pro-war Partido Popular government. This is unlikely to succeed though unless an attack occurs on Poland's home soil - which also, thankfully, seems very unlikely.

3 words to end with:



Withdraw !


Becca said…
Hey Damien,
Thanks for your comment. If I were you, I'd contact the refugee section of PAH.
I've worked with Ewa (ewa.pintera@pah.org.pl) before, and she'd be able to tell you what kind of volunteers they're after.
varus said…
Will they withdraw? Ineviatbly, the question is when. I agree that an attack in Poland is unlikley and that this was the crucial factor with Spain. Many soldiers in the Polish military think that it was a mistake to get involved and wish for a withdrawal. However, they also value the operational experience that Iraq gives them. If Briatin withdrew completley, then i would put money on Poland being close behind. The question is from a political point of vire can this happen? I doubt brAll jobs except ground combat rolesBritain or British people would accept the idea of defeat and total faliure and so they will stay for the forseable future, even though as you mentioned this will be in much smaller numbers.
Damien Moran said…
Thanks for reply Becca. I have close friends who work in PAH and intend to pursue that line. Cheers.

I think the withdrawal is closely connected to the ABM talks - Abram tanks, patriot missiles, etc. as Sikorski said a while back.

And your spot on re. the comment on army boys getting experience in the field. Fuck all point of a general having soldiers if they are just going to listen to TOK FM all day or help out people when the floods arrive.
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