Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Out by June: UK plans Iraq withdrawal.

Ever since Gordon Brown moved British troops in Iraq to the airport at Basra we have been waiting for when he is finally going to announce that they are withdrawing. A senior defence source yesterday confirmed that they will begin moving out in March and that the withdrawal should be complete by June.

But instead of handing over to Iraqi authorities, the British will be replaced at their Basra airport base by a large force of US troops, who will set up their own headquarters there, the source revealed.

The withdrawal follows months of planning and security assessments by British and American commanders. The timetable is expected to be confirmed by Gordon Brown early in the new year.

The initial rundown will be relatively modest, with the tempo increasing later, defence officials said. "It'll be very gradual, and then a fairly steep reduction," one said. By the end of June almost all the 4,000 UK troops now stationed at Basra will be gone. About 300 will remain at the request of the Iraqis to help set up colleges for officer cadets and senior staff officers, and to train the Iraqi navy.

It's blatant that Brown is doing this because Barack Obama is becoming the next president and American withdrawal is now on the cards. It really makes one wonder if there is any independence left in the British position, as we only ever appear to act when we know we are doing what our American counterparts wish.

By the time Brown succeeded Blair the Iraq war was already unpopular here in the UK and there were many of us who thought Brown moved the British troops to the airport as a first step to bringing them home. Especially as Bush was by that time the lamest of lame duck presidents.

But no, Brown has kept them there until an American president is about to be elected who agrees with the vast majority of Brits that this war is a bad war which should never have been fought in the first place.

I am pleased that our involvement in this illegal nightmare is soon to be at a close, but I also wish that we had had the courage to leave independently and not have to wait for American permission.

It rather feels as if we are some kind of American satellite state and that the wishes of the British people can be safely ignored whilst the wishes of whoever occupies the White House must be paid attention to at all times.

It just feels vaguely humiliating. And one gets the distinct feeling that, had McCain won the election, the British troops would be going nowhere.

Cick title for full article.

No comments: