Iraq and Spain

The US newspapers (e.g. the NYTimes) are reporting that a “Spanish diplomat” was killed today in Iraq by unknown gunmen. Spain has about 1,300 troops supporting the US in Iraq, btw. I gleaned two interesting points from the Spanish newspaper reports of the incident, however. First, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the man killed, José Antonio Bernal Gómez, was an officer in the Spanish Air Force who worked for the Spanish intelligence agency (the Spanish CIA). I’m not sure if “diplomat” is a very good description of his activities.

Also, this incident provides a glimpse into the internal political debate in another country that’s tangled up in Iraq. The spokesman for the center-right government called it a “terrorist attack” that “reaffirms that we must continue working to achieve stability in and the reconstruction of the Iraqi community.” (Translations are my own.) Sounds reasonably similar to what our own government would say.

However, the leader of the center-left opposition group in Spain, Gaspar Llamazares, said that he was upset with the death of the Spaniard, but that he thought that this should serve as a reminder that while the Spanish government maintains its commitment to the “illegal war and occupation in Iraq,” Spaniards will continue to be at risk. Strong stuff.


UPDATE: It looks like the NYTimes has changed their description of the man who was killed. They now report that he was “a Spanish intelligence officer.”