British speed up pullback from Iraq

British speed up pullback from Iraq

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityBrown visited British troops stationed at their base outside Basra last week and announced then that 1,000 of them would be coming home. But that declaration, apparently aimed at a possible general election next month, backfired after Brown was accused of playing politics. It also turned out that some of the 1,000 he described as being withdrawn were already home, and others had already been announced as heading home. In his formal statement to Parliament, Brown said a decision would be made in the spring as to how long the reduced force of 2,500 would remain in Iraq. At a briefing at the Foreign Office after Brown’s statement, a senior British official said of the final 2,500 troops that “there was no guarantee they will be there beyond the end of 2008.” The official said Britain was on a “glide path” of irreversible reductions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity under Foreign Office rules. In his response to Brown in Parliament, the leader of the opposition Conservative party, David Cameron, seemed to sum up the content of Brown’s statement, saying: “Now the troops are coming home.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LONDON – Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the House of Commons on Monday that he would remove half of the 5,000 British troops in Iraq by next spring, and he left open the strong possibility that all British soldiers would leave Iraq by the end of 2008. Brown said the cuts were possible because of what he described as the progress made in training Iraqi security forces. He described the situation in Basra in southern Iraq, where the British troops are based, as calmer. Since President George W. Bush has made clear that U.S. troops will remain heavily committed in Iraq at least through his administration’s end in January 2009, it appears that the tight alliance on Iraq forged between Brown’s predecessor, Tony Blair, and Bush is unraveling. Indeed, a hallmark of Brown’s three months as prime minister has been the relative distance he has established from the U.S. president. The timetable of reductions appears to fit neatly into the calculus of a British general election that is now expected to be in 2009. Britain’s role as America’s largest coalition partner has been highly unpopular among voters, and as Brown spoke, thousands of protesters massed outside Parliament chanting slogans calling for immediate withdrawal. last_img

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