British To Publish Plans for Iraq Withdrawal

Even though Tony Blair has echoed George W. Bush’s position against any announcement of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, a document being drafted by the British government and planned for publication next month looks a lot like an announcement of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

The document being drawn up by the British government and the US will be presented to the Iraqi parliament in October and will spark fresh controversy over how long British troops will stay in the country. Tony Blair hopes that, despite continuing and widespread violence in Iraq, the move will show that there is progress following the conflict of 2003.

Britain has already privately informed Japan – which also has troops in Iraq – of its plans to begin withdrawing from southern Iraq in May, a move that officials in Tokyo say would make it impossible for their own 550 soldiers to remain.

The increasingly rapid pace of planning for British military disengagement has been revealed on the eve of the Labour Party conference, which will see renewed demands for a deadline for withdrawal. It is hoped that a clearer strategy on Iraq will quieten critics who say that the government will not be able to ‘move on’ until Blair quits. Yesterday, about 10,000 people demonstrated against the army’s continued presence in the country.

Ah, so that’s what this is, the floatation of a trial balloon on the eve of a political gathering. A little further down in the story, Blair’s Defense Secretary, John Reid throws this qualifier into the mix.

Defence Secretary John Reid insisted that the agreement being drawn up with Iraqi officials was contingent on the continuing political process, although he said he was still optimistic British troops would begin returning home by early summer.

“The two things I want to insist about the timetable is that it is not an event but a process, and that it will be a process that takes place at different speeds in different parts of the country. I have said before that I believe that it could begin in some parts of the country as early as next July. It is not a deadline, but it is where we might be and I honestly still believe we could have the conditions to begin a hand-over. I don’t see any reason to change my view.”

“But if circumstances change I have no shame in revising my estimates.”

Political smoke and mirrors. No promises. No commitments.

In other words, a waste of time.


  1. A waste of time? No, I’d call it common sense.

  2. JiggaDigga says:

    Great reading, keep up the great posts.
    Peace, JiggaDigga

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