THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM

Rajoy faces growing internal and external pressure to help France

Felipe VI asks for EU to "stand united" against those who want to take away our freedom

Shortly after the terrorist attack on a Mali hotel on November 22, Spain denied it was thinking of raising its troops there.
Shortly after the terrorist attack on a Mali hotel on November 22, Spain denied it was thinking of raising its troops there.ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is facing growing pressure inside and outside Spain to say how he plans to help France in its global fight against jihadism.

Just hours after Angela Merkel offered to send 650 German troops to Mali to relieve French soldiers on a mission there, the Spanish king asked for Europe to “stand united and firm against terror,” while the emerging party Ciudadanos told Rajoy not to base his choices on the effects they might have at the upcoming general elections, on December 20.

The Spanish executive claims it is waiting for Paris to ask for something

Two weeks after the Islamist attacks in Paris, which triggered a wave of worldwide support for France, the conservative Popular Party (PP) government is keeping “all hypotheses open on the table” but has failed to take any specific action.

After EL PAÍS reported that the Spanish army might increase its contingents in Mali and Central African Republic to free up French troops for action in Syria, Madrid quickly denied having made such an offer and has since been stuck in an uncomfortable silence while countries all around it make concrete pledges.

Rajoy had failed to mention the Mali plans to opposition leaders during talks he held with them to define a coordinated Spanish position on the fight against jihadism.

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Now, the Spanish executive claims it is waiting for Paris to ask for something, but French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has made it clear that they are the ones awaiting suggestions from Spain.

Meanwhile, back in Spain, Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera told the government to “stop thinking about the ballot boxes” and make a decision regarding France.

Felipe VI, while stopping short of exhorting Rajoy to take action, said that EU members must “stand united and firm before the terrorist challenge that seeks to destroy our freedom.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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