Sunday, March 22, 2009

BEFORE I BELIEVE IT, I'd like to see some confirmation of this, not from the Spanish government, but from someone at Gen. James Jones' office (previously in Barcepundit, here):
Spain's government said Saturday it had cleared up a misunderstanding with Washington over the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Kosovo.

"Once it was it was explained that (the withdrawal) was going to be done in a fully coordinated manner, the reaction of the United States and our allies was one of complete understanding," said Bernardino Leon, the top aide to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

"A page has been turned... this little storm has passed," he told private radio Cadena Ser.
Considering that the Cadena Ser is almost a house organ of the Socialist party and Zapatero's government, it wouldn't be surprising if this was just damage control after the general uproar in Spain about how badly handled this thing was. Spanish press is reporting today that Bernardino Leon, nor the army chief of Staff, nor the Foreign Minister, nor the Spanish ambassador to the US or NATO knew anything about Spain's Kosovo pullout. Spain's defense minister hadn't told anything to NATO's secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer nor to US Defense secretary Robert Gates, not even during a courtesy phonecall. It's been said that León and the army chief of staff learned about it in a layover during their trip to DC for a pre-scheduled meeting with Gen. Jones. The meeting's agenda had to change quickly to discuss this, apparently.

Why I suspect it's damage control? Well, because after announcing the withdrawal, the Spanish government is already backpedaling furiously:
Spain's timetable for the withdrawal of its 600 troops from Kosovo is flexible, the prime minister's spokesman said on Sunday, reacting to NATO criticism of Spanish plans to withdraw the troops by the end of summer.

"Defence Minister Carmen Chacon will meet NATO's secretary general next week to explain the reasons for the withdrawal and to reach a joint decision on a timetable," the spokesman said.

"The decision to leave has been made, but we can be flexible over the timetable, be it one year, 18 months or eight months."

The spokesman's comment marked a shift from the remark by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Friday that the troops would leave Kosovo within the next four or five months.

Zapatero had been confirming Chacon's announcement of the withdrawal plan on Thursday.
What a bunch of amateurs.

UPDATE. More here.