Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Blair reduces UK Iraq force

BBC News:

Prime Minister Tony Blair has told MPs that 1,600 British troops will return from Iraq within the next few months.
He said the 7,100 serving troops would be cut to 5,500 soon, with hopes that 500 more will leave by late summer.

Remaining troops will stay into 2008, to give back-up if necessary and secure borders, but the Iraqis would "write the next chapter" in Basra's history.
Source: BBC
There are approximately 132,000 US personnel currently in Iraq accounting for more than 90% of the occupying force

Iraq is divided into 5 main military zones. The US controls the north and west of the country, as well as Baghdad

The Centre-South is run Polish forces, but US troops lead any major operations against insurgents in this area

The UK's 7,100 soldiers are based in the South East zone. Three provinces - Muthanna, al-Najaf and Dhi Qar are now under provisional Iraqi control. Basra and Maysan provinces are expected to follow suit in the first half of 2007

Though some seemed surprised by this move, the cut in Basra and southern Iraq forces was inevitable as planned.

Does Blair truly believe in an Iraq exit or reduction as strategically positive, or is he just trying to salvage his legacy and New Labour movement tarnished by his later foreign policy debacles?

Blair is expected to step down from his post as prime minister by mid-summer this year. He has held the position for a decade, following a sweeping victory for Labour in 1997. There are plenty of people — including myself — ready for his departure.

Newsweek has an exclusive 'exit interview' of Blair, though the article is written in a decidedly pro-Blair bias. One thing that peeved me was how the article stated Blair was
Perhaps more than any British post-World War leader, save Margaret Thatcher, Blair personified his era, transforming the nation's politics and ushering in unrivaled prosperity.
Does the writer even know about a man named Clement Attlee? Attlee transformed Britain following their loss of their superpower status and the end of the British Empire. Thatcher's affect on the nation have yet to be seen as positive.

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