The missions in Iraq, Mali, Lebanon and Operation 'Atalanta' report to the Minister for Defence on the state of affairs of the Spanish contingents

News - 2024.5.8

8/05/2024. Videoconference with the commanders of the Spanish missions and contingents. The Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles, holds a ... The Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles, holds a videoconference with the commanders of the Spanish missions and contingents in Iraq, Mali, Lebanon and Operation 'Atalanta'

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The Minister for Defence has held a videoconference from the headquarters of the Operations Command with the commanders of the Spanish missions and contingents in Iraq, Mali, Lebanon and Operation 'Atalanta', who informed her about the current state of affairs in these parts of the world. Margarita Robles praised the contribution to peace made by our Armed Forces, who also fly the flag high for Spain.

Lieutenant General José Antonio Agüero has begun the round of speeches he has led for the past year from the Baghdad headquarters of the NATO mission, the command of which he will hand over on 24 May.

Robles thanked him for all the work that has been done "in a very intense year, which I have been able to witness in situ. The Spanish flag has been raised very high and the Iraqi prime minister is very grateful for Spain's role". The minister highlighted that the "two contingents have done an exceptional job", referring to the 370 Spanish military and civilian personnel who are contributing to two international operations in the country: the international coalition against DAESH and the NATO mission to advise and support the Iraqi authorities and armed forces.

In a conversation with Brigadier General Santiago Fernández Ortiz-Repiso, head of the Mali contingent, she informed that logistical actions are continuing for the end of the mandate on 18 May, after 11 years of close collaboration with the Malian armed forces through EUTM Mali, where more than 20,000 soldiers have been trained.

"We can say that it has been mission accomplished for all the soldiers who have passed through here," said General Ortiz-Repiso. "Now we must be by their side, asking them what they need and cooperating and supporting them as much as possible in the future".

Robles expressed her concern about the situation in the Sahel, defending the need for the EU not to abandon the area, while stressing "Spain's good relations with the Malian authorities", adding that "the civilian population has also recognised Spain's role".

From Lebanon, Brigadier General Pablo Gómez Lera, head of the Spanish contingent of the 'Libre Hidalgo' operation in the eastern sector of the UN mission, stressed that the situation is still "unstable, uncertain and unpredictable", and that the contingent is currently busy with preparations for the imminent handover, which will take place between 14 and 25 May.

General Lera expressed that "while we have not been able to stop the violence along the blue line and in the sector, the population perceives us as the thin blue line that is separating them from an all-out war".

For all these reasons, Minister Robles said that "all of Spain should know what a great role they are playing in preserving peace in this complicated area, where they have had to spend many hours in the bunkers. Spain owes a debt of gratitude".

On operation 'Atalanta', after hearing the current affairs report from frigate captain Carlos Cordón, who commands the frigate 'Canarias', and lieutenant colonel César Oliver, head of the 'Orión' airborne detachment in Djibouti, Robles highlighted the importance not only of naval deterrence, but also of information and intelligence work in this operation, where an increase in piracy has been noted.

Non official translation