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December 27, 2005
Poland Stands By The Coalition

A hearty round of applause, please, for our allies in Poland who understand the necessity of guarding freedom and democracy. Despite an earlier indication that the Poles would stick to a withdrawal timetable that would have seen their 1500-troop contingent leave Iraq within a few weeks, Poland announced instead that it would maintain its forces in Iraq throughout 2006 in keeping with a request from the new Iraqi government:

Poland's government says it has taken the "very difficult decision" to extend its military deployment in Iraq until the end of 2006. The new conservative government's decision reverses the previous leftist administration's plan to pull troops out in early 2006.

Poland, a staunch ally of the US, has about 1,500 troops stationed in Iraq. ...

But Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, elected in October's parliamentary elections, has asked the Polish president to keep them there for another year.

"This is a very difficult decision, but we take into consideration the fact that the mandate of UN stabilisation forces has been extended to the whole of 2006 and, secondly, strong requests of Iraqi authorities that we stay there," he said.

Poland has long provided a substantial share of combat-ready troops to guard the emerging democracy in Iraq. In March, they will start focusing instead on training Iraqi security forces to enable a transfer of power to the national contingent. The Poles have about half of the troop commitment of Italy and just a bit more than Australia, and command a central region of Iraq that includes the once-hot city of Najaf, the center of Shi'ite quietism espoused by the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Their continuing commitment allows the Americans to continue their focus on training Iraqis as well as pursuing the Zarqawi terrorist network as the Iraqis seat their first democratically elected constitutional government ever.

In a time when European politicians often fall back on reflexive anti-Americanism to score short-term political points, let's remember that some of our friends understand the stakes involved in the Iraqi front of the war on terror. Three cheers for the brave and steadfast Poles.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 27, 2005 1:02 PM

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