OPINION & NEWS: The British withdrawal from Iraq

Brown should listen to the military and quit Iraq now

Justice, as the cliche has it, must not only be done, but be seen to be done. By the same token, policy decisions must not just be taken – they must be declared. Otherwise their benefit is reduced or lost. As Gordon Brown visited Iraq yesterday to prepare for Monday’s formal announcement to parliament on Britain’s troop presence, he should ponder these truths. Some 42% of the public want Britain’s involvement in Iraq to end as soon as possible, and another 22% by the end of next year, according to a BBC poll last month. The prime minister talked yesterday of a reduction of a thousand troops by Christmas, but if he says nothing specific about a full withdrawal, he will be disappointing millions of people, as well as the troops themselves.

There is an overwhelming desire among the country’s military commanders for an end to the British adventure in Iraq. However professionally they acted, they were given a mission that was unnecessary and wrongly conceived. Along with the much more decisive role of the United States, this mission has helped to plunge Iraq into political turmoil and the largest human emergency in today’s world. [complete article]

In visit to Iraq, Brown says 1,000 more British troops to be withdrawn by year’s end

Iraq will take over security from British troops in Basra province within two months, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told reporters Tuesday after meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who said 1,000 more British troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by year’s end.

Brown was on an unannounced visit, which also was to include a session with U.S. Commander David Petraeus before the British leader flies to Basra to meet with his forces and military leaders in the oil-rich region in the deep south of Iraq.

“We are prepared to take over security of Basra within two months and we will,” al-Maliki said, after the meeting in his Green Zone office. “Basra will be one of the provinces where Iraqi forces will completely take over security.” [complete article]

Iraqis say Basra quieter after British troop pullout

Rresidents of Iraq’s southern city of Basra have begun strolling riverfront streets again after four years of fear, their city much quieter since British troops withdrew from the grand Saddam Hussein-era Basra Palace.

Political assassinations and sectarian violence continue, some city officials say, but on a much smaller scale than at any time since British troops moved into the city after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Mortar rounds, rockets and small arms fire crashed almost daily into the palace, making life hazardous for British and Iraqis alike in Iraq’s second-largest city. To many Basrans the withdrawal of the British a month ago removed a proven target. [complete article]

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