IN a recently released letter, Spain’s former Prime Minister José María Aznar defended his decision to back the Iraq war.
The letter is featured in a book published by Spain’s current foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo. The former prime minister who governed Spain from 1996 to 2004 wrote in the letter: “In terms of influence and international support for our goals, Spain came out a winner.”
He added: “We did what the majority of other European countries did, but our visibility was heightened because we had a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”
Aznar was a key international ally for then-US president George W Bush.
Despite polls showing more than 90 per cent of Spaniards opposing the war in 2003, Aznar and his conservative government went on to give their support.
“Since taking office, the strengthening of relations with the United States was a priority,” said Aznar. “It was strategically good for Spain and stemmed from a basic sense of political reciprocity – you cannot ask a friend for help and then later, when that same friend asks you for something, say no.”
The subsequent Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguéz Zapatero, voted to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq.
“The war has been a disaster and the occupation continues to be a disaster. It has only generated violence,” he told Spanish media the day after he won the elections.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, apologised last week for the use of misleading intelligence in the Iraq war, but refused to apologise for the war itself.