Thaksin Shinawatra: “We do not go there to fight. If we get killed, why should we stay?”
Thailand, which has suffered increasingly from jihad attacks, is toying with the idea of joining the appeasers. From the Telegraph, .
A threat by Thailand’s prime minister to withdraw his country’s troops from Iraq if they are attacked again by anti-coalition forces was criticised yesterday as offering a victory to terrorists.
“I would prefer the Thai soldiers to stay here to challenge these terrorists because, if they do have to leave, this will be a triumph for the killers,” said Lt Ammar Atia, commander of the Iraqi police post outside Camp Lima base in the southern city of Karbala.
Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai premier, said the 451 Thai medical and engineering troops at Camp Lima could soon be ordered home. “If we get hurt or killed, I will not keep them there. We do not go there to fight. If we get killed, why should we stay?”
Coalition officials fear that such sentiments could encourage further attacks on Thai troops. Two were killed in December when a car loaded with explosives was crashed into their base. Thailand’s warning came a day after Spain announced it would pull out its 1,432 troops from Iraq, and Honduras said its 368 soldiers would be leaving as soon as possible.
At Camp Lima yesterday, Thai soldiers were inside the heavily fortified base, surrounded by concrete barriers topped with coils of barbed wire. An officer at the gate declined to comment on whether troops would prefer to remain.
“Sorry, regulations do not allow me to speak,” he said. “I’m not permitted to say anything about our mission or what we think.”
Lt Atia said the Thai troops had distinguished themselves in Karbala. “These soldiers are very well educated. Many of them are Muslims. They have been rebuilding our roads and giving food to the people. They are very popular.”
Colin Powell, the American secretary of state, said it was possible more members of President George W Bush’s 32-country “coalition of the willing” would evacuate its troops but broke off from a marathon round of telephone calls to gauge the level of commitment to insist he remained optimistic.
“I am getting solid support for our efforts, commitments to remain and finish the job that they came to do.”
But Mr Powell’s task was made more difficult by the continuing chaos in much of Iraq despite the uneasy truces still holding in the flashpoint centres of Fallujah and Najaf. At least 22 were killed and about 100 injured in a mortar attack by insurgents on a prison near Baghdad.
The dangerous security situation was further underlined by confirmation from the American company Halliburton that three bodies found in shallow grave near Baghdad were employees of one of its subsidiaries.
Lt Atia said he had sympathy for the predicament of coalition countries. “Every leader is responsible for the wellbeing of his men. They have the right to withdraw their soldiers because they came as liberation troops but now there is chaos here. It is very sad.”