Cablegate: Spain/Iraq: Socialists Fire Up Anti-War Rhetoric
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #0520/01 0801235
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211235Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2126
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0157
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 2546
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000520
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2017
TAGS: PREL SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN/IRAQ: SOCIALISTS FIRE UP ANTI-WAR RHETORIC
FOR ELECTORAL SEASON
MADRID 00000520 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: DCM Hugo Llorens; reason 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (C) Summary. In a volatile political climate leading up to regional/municipal elections in late May, the ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) and far left political allies have ramped up criticism of the war in Iraq, in part to counteract opposition Popular Party (PP) attacks on the Zapatero Government's controversial policies on the ETA
issue. The Madrid Regional PSOE joined the far left "United Left" (IU), unions, and pacifist groups staged mass demonstrations against the war on March 17 - though the turnout was lower than for the anti-ETA march. On March 20, high profile magistrate Baltasar Garzon published an editorial in the left leaning "El Pais" saying that the time had arrived to investigate "criminal responsibility" for the
war in Iraq, to include possible charges against former
President Aznar, PM Blair, and President Bush (Spaniards
frequently refer to the "Picture of the Azores" in 2003 of
the three leaders as the moment in which the decision to go
to war was made, thus linking Aznar not just with the Spanish
troop deployment, but with full responsibility for the war).
PSOE Secretary Jose Blanco said in a March 20 television
interview that "someone must pay" for the war in Iraq, and
that if someone could demonstrate criminal culpability on the
part of political leaders, Blanco said he was "all for it."
The Ambassador contacted National Security Adviser Carles
Casajuana on March 21 to convey his deep concern regarding
the direction and tenor of PSOE statements on Iraq, which
could only harm bilateral relations. Casajuana discussed the
heated political context of the statements and said he
expected them to abate soon, but assured the Ambassador that
he would convey the Ambassador's concerns to President
Zapatero immediately. The DCM is following up with PSOE
Secretary Blanco to insist that the PSOE avoid dragging the
USG into its domestic conflict with the PP. End summary.
//HEATED POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT//
2. (C) In the runup to May 27 regional and municipal
elections, the political environment in Spain has become
increasingly aggressive. The PP has not gained in most
opinion polls, but its criticism of President Zapatero's
controversial policies in the Basque Region has steadily
eroded electoral support for the PSOE. In a show of
strength, the PP led an anti-ETA, anti-Zapatero demonstration
on March 10 in Madrid that drew at least 1 million people.
The PSOE stormed back the following week, refocusing public
attention on former President Aznar's unpopular decision to
commit Spanish forces to the war in Iraq. The Madrid Region
PSOE, joined by the PSOE Secretary for International
Relations Elena Valenciano, organized a smaller mass rally on
March 17 against the Iraq war and against the U.S. detention
of enemy combatants at Guantanamo.
3. (U) The PSOE Parliamentary group joined the fray on March
20, negotiating a non-binding resolution with the far left IU that sharply criticized the "illegal" war in Iraq. The resolution passed with the unanimous support of all parties except the PP. The resolution condemned the "illegal, immoral, and unjust" decision to go to war in Iraq, for having "destabilized the region, and encouraged jihadist terrorism, which most affects the Iraqi people themselves." The resolution further states that the war was launched on false pretenses, "as has been recognized by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair... the (mismanagement) of the conflict has undermined the credibility of fundamental universal values, in the face of brutal realities at Abu
Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the execution of Saddam Hussein." (NOTE: The PSOE version of the resolution removed IU language calling on the USG to hand over three U.S. servicemen accused of killing Spanish TV cameraman Jose Couso. END NOTE).
//GARZON, PSOE LEADER WEIGH IN//
4. (U) Judge Garzon published an editorial in the leading daily "El Pais" on March 20 that lambasted Aznar for declining to "heed UN inspectors... and instead lending himself, along with a few other leaders, to provide cover and support for this illegal action. Garzon went on to suggest that the time had come to study whether "criminal
responsibility" should be assigned to Aznar, Prime Minister Blair, and President Bush. Spaniards frequently refer to the "Picture of the Azores" in 2003 of the three leaders as the moment in which the decision to go to war was made, thus linking Aznar not just with the Spanish troop deployment, but with full responsibility for the war. Late on March 20, a television news crew asked PSOE Secretary Jose Blanco (effectively the number two PSOE leader after Zapatero)
whether Aznar should be prosecuted for having involved Spain
MADRID 00000520 002.2 OF 002
in the war in Iraq. Blanco said that "someone must respond in the face of this horror, and if there are reasons and grounds from the legal point of view, then I would be all for it."
//AMBASSADOR CALLS PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER//
5. (C) The Ambassador contacted National Security Adviser Carles Casajuana on March 21 to express his concern regarding the increasingly shrill rhetoric on Iraq on the part of the ruling Socialist Party and its allies. The Ambassador said that the PSOE was dragging the USG into Spain's domestic political arena, a fact that could only harm bilateral relations. The Ambassador said that he was aware of the
political context, but that he was running out of patience with unfair Government and PSOE statements regarding the U.S.
6. (C) Casajuana said that the political environment was "highly polarized" at the moment and blamed the PP for having stirred the pot on the ETA issue in an inflammatory manner. He acknowledged that the PSOE had judged that it could counter attack by resurfacing the Iraq issue and going after Aznar himself, particularly since the timing coincided with the fourth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.
Casajuana said he understood that the "spillover" of the debate had impacted USG sensitivities, but said he expected the Iraq issue to run its course in the next couple of days. Casajuana said he would relay the Ambassador's concerns immediately to President Zapatero, emphasizing the Zapatero Government's desire to keep this issue under control. The Ambassador asked that President Zapatero act to tamp down the matter and avoid fueling anti-American sentiment as the
political campaign continued.
7. (C) The DCM will follow up with a similar message to other officials and has requested meetings with PSOE Secretary Blanco and PSOE International Relations Secretary Elena Valenciano to ask that they leave the U.S. out of their