Why are the British drawing down in Southern Iraq? Secretary Rice is saying it is, "Pip-pip, Mission accomplished." I am not sure what the Danes are saying. The real reasons the British are withdrawing are various, but at a minimum they must include:
- The British Army is too small and too stretched to meet the needs of both Afghanistan and at the same time be effective in Basra.
- The Iranian influence over the heavily Shiite South is all but complete. No available amount of British troops will make a difference.
- The Brits have determined the political support for continued action in Iraq is non-existent in Britain and rapidly declining in the US.
- Britain wants no part of any scheme to attack Iran, which if done, they believe it will create a greater calamity than anything this Administration has done so far.
- Britain has come to the conclusion that regardless of efforts of the UK, political events in Iraq are beyond her influence.
Rice calls Iraq coalition 'intact'
By Sharon Behn
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
February 22, 2007
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The Bush administration maintained yesterday that its Iraq coalition was still in good shape despite announcements by Britain and two other countries that they would withdraw all or some of their troops by the end of the year.
"The coalition remains intact," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during a visit to Berlin. "It is the plan that -- as it is possible to transfer responsibilities to the Iraqis -- coalition forces would no longer be needed."
Miss Rice spoke just hours after British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced in Parliament that Britain would cut 1,600 troops from its 7,100-strong force in southern Iraq in the coming months.
He said several hundred more could come home by late summer if conditions permit. There were 40,000 British troops in Iraq when the war began, and roughly 9,000 in place two years ago.
Denmark said it planned to withdraw its 460 troops from southern Iraq by August. A Lithuanian Defense Ministry spokeswoman said her country was "seriously considering" withdrawing its 53 troops from the same area in August.
The United States put the best face on the announcements, declaring the withdrawals were evidence of the improved security situation in southern Iraq.
But analysts on both sides of the Atlantic disagreed.