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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UK warned about its Iraq withdrawal strategy

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Aug 30, IRNA
UK-Iraq Withdrawal
An all-party commission, set up to review the UK's strategy in Iraq, has criticized Prime Minister Gordon Blair for saying that British troops will only leave Basra based on the "situation on the ground."

"The UK must take control of our strategy in Iraq. We should change the trigger for drawdown of troops to something we can still influence - training Iraqi forces to take over control of security," a spokesman for Britain's Iraq Commission said.

The 17-member panel in July ruled out that there should be an immediate withdrawal of all of Britain's remaining 5,500 troops, warning that there are "no easy options" and that it could lead to even further violence.

Any dependence on the prevailing security conditions is "ill defined" and troops should "only remain as long as they have a job to do," it said.

Co-chair Lord Paddy Ashdown, who served as the UN High Representative in Bosnia said the US-UK coalition had "looking for military solutions when there are only political ones - and that means diplomacy on the international stage."

"The Prime Minister urgently needs to seek a UN Security Council Resolution to internationalise the situation. The first step is a treaty to underpin Iraq's territorial integrity and in parallel a UN sponsored process of national reconciliation," Ashdown said.

Former Conservative Defence Secretary Tom King, who was another chair of the commission, said British troops have a "major and important job in training and equipping Iraq's own security forces" and that they should "focus on completing this objective." Brown set out his government's position in response to a call by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell for the withdrawal of British troops, when he said the prime minister was "ignoring the reality" and should accept that UK efforts there had failed.

Campbell said the level of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan was now "unacceptable" and could not be justified on the grounds of maintaining "political solidarity" with the US.

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