Oct. 6, 2004 – Just days after US President George W. Bush twice highlighted Poland as a valued ally in the occupation of Iraq, Polandâ€™s ministry of defense announced it will soon decide on a date for full withdrawal of its 2,500 troops from Iraq. Polish Defense Minister Jerry Szmajdzinski said the final timetable would be decided soon after October 15. The announcement follows a statement on Monday promising a withdrawal by the end of next year.
Szmajdzinski said he had assured Deputy US Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that Poland would honor its commitments in Iraq until the end of 2005.
"[Poland] will definitely fully meet its commitments in Iraq for the whole of the year 2005," Minister Szmajdzinski told reporters following a tense meeting with Wolfowitz. "The coming six months will be decisive for the process of stabilization in Iraq and for its transformation into a democratic nation."
The war in Iraq, during which seventeen Polish troops have died in fighting, has become extremely unpopular in Poland. The Polish president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, accused the American government in March of deceiving his country about alleged weapons of mass destruction. "[The United States] deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true," he said. "We were taken for a ride." Kwasniewski also said at that time: "We cannot alter our mission to stabilize Iraq to one to destabilize the country. Passiveness will lead us nowhere."