Sunday, June 03, 2007

The British way out

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From The Times: "British commanders in Iraq have drawn up plans to allow Gordon Brown to withdraw almost all UK troops by the end of the year". It seems that the plan amounts to "leaving a number of small training teams in the south to advise the Iraqi military forces but withdrawing the rest of the British troops by the end of December".

It is not clear whether the soon-to-be new prime minister supports (or will endorse) the plan, which was drawn up by Major-General Jonathan Shaw, the British commander in the south, and endorsed by Lieutenant-General Graeme Lamb, the deputy coalition commander in Baghdad. Nor is it clear what Cabinet will do. Nor is it clear how the troops would be withdrawn. Said one "defence source": "There are several contingency plans about exactly how British troops will get out. Whatever way we use it will be ugly."

Ugly, yes. But withdrawal, sooner rather than later, seems inevitable. The British clearly want out.

(For more, see Jim Martin at The Impolitic.)

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