Report claims UK might withdraw from Iraq as early as October

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Sunday Times cites unnamed U.K. government sources saying that Britain's troops could leave Basra as early as October. This alleged scenario would allow Gordon Brown to announce a troop withdrawal in a statement at the time MPs return to Parliament.

The speculations have sparked criticism from U.S. military commentators this weekend. General Jack Keane said the withdrawal had "much more to do with conditions in the U.K." than with the situation in Iraq. Frederick Kagan, of the American Enterprise Institute, said the expected withdrawal "highlights the growing divergence between the British and American approach."

Just yesterday, former General Sir Mike Jackson called Donald Rumsfeld's approach to the U.S. presence in Iraq "intellectually bankrupt".

An official statement from the British Ministry of Defence said that decisions about the number of troops in the Southern Iraqi province would take into account the position of the Iraqi and U.S. government. The Ministry said that even after "a competent Iraqi security force" will have replaced them, some troops could still remain in Basra. Until now, Gordon Brown has consistently refused to set a time table for a pull-back.