British withdrawal a blow for Bush
22 February, 2007
New York: Britain's troop withdrawal plan has given Bush's political foes a way to seize on the administration's new policy in Iraq.
U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid bluntly said Britain had "acknowledged a reality" that Bush "still stubbornly refuses to accept" as he sends thousands more American soldiers into Iraq.
"There can be no purely military solution in Iraq," Reid said in a statement. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, asked "why are thousands of additional American troops being sent to Iraq at the same time that British troops are planning to leave?"
Veteran Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy branded the British announcement a "stunning rejection" of Bush's approach. "No matter how the White House tries to spin it, the British government has decided to split with President Bush and begin to move troops out of Iraq."
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden said Bush should follow Blair's example and "start to draw down our troops from Iraq, not send more into the middle of a civil war." Bush's defeated 2004 Democratic rival John Kerry told Bush to listen to Blair after "years of touting" the prime minister's resolve.
But House Republican leader John Boehner said the British withdrawal proved Bush's plan deserved a chance. "The new, multi-faceted strategy to secure Baghdad and Al-Anbar province is designed to accomplish the same goal that coalition forces have achieved in southern Iraq -- a stable, secure environment where the Iraqis are ready to take control," he said.
Earlier, Cheney said the troop cut reflected progress around the southern city of Basra where British forces are based. "Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," Cheney said in an interview with ABC News from Japan.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted in Berlin that the US-led coalition "remains intact." But analysts said Blair's move was a political blow for Bush. "Tony Blair was the symbol of a multinational support for the invasion and occupation," said Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution think-tank.
"The message to the American people is the rest of our allies are heading to the exit." Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the British "long ago essentially ceded the two provinces they control -- Basra and Maisan -- to Shiite Islamist factions."
He however added: There is no doubt that any British troop reduction that is not coordinated with a U.S. reduction weakens the image of the coalition and further isolates the U.S." Bush administration claims that Iraq needs the U.S. troops to insure the security in the war-torn country while many analysts and the public believe the strategy cannot bring peace to the region.
Courtsy - Press TV