Early this month U.S. Defense Department’s Secretary Robert Gates and British Defense Secretary Des Browne met in London to agree on the withdrawal of half of the British troops in Iraq. They said that the pull out was not because of any mounting domestic political pressure from any individual or groups but because of the improved situation in the said region.
Des Browne said that Britain and the U.S. have the same aspirations for Iraq. But while the situation in Iraq continues to stabilize, in Afghanistan, however, it was the opposite. Des Browne is calling for additional international forces to be sent to Afghanistan which he said as part of the “long-term commitment” to pursue stability in those areas. That probably is the catch for the withdrawal because according to him all the 2,500 troops that would be taken out in southern part of Iraq would be diverted to Afghanistan to support the present force manning those territories.
The two powerful personalities agreed that there is no need for most of the forces in those parts of Iraq and that the withdrawal was agreed by Gen. David Petraeus who was the highest military personnel in Iraq.
But that is not the end of the news, however. According to the New York Times, in reality there is still continuous fighting between the rival Shiite factions who are trying to gain control of the oil-rich section of Iraq. Just recently, politicians were assassinated in the provinces of Muthanna and Diwaniyah. These provinces were located in the southern part of the country and people say that these political killings are being done by certain groups to have control over all of the oil reserve found in these areas.
Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair was somewhat dismayed of the growing fractionalization and rebellion in Iraq. The Prime Minister has always been supporting the U.S. in its long time war with Iraq and ironically his decade-long tenure ended in June this year. Blair was questioning British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s decision on the issue of withdrawal and for now Brown had to distance himself from the embattled ex-Prime Minister.
Britain has more than 5,000 troops particularly situated in Iraq while the U.S. has nearly 170,000 troops all stationed around Iraq. After the announcement of the withdrawal, Brown said those who will remain would be tasked to train Iraqi government troops and will only fight if necessary. They will also be withdrawn by the end of next year, he said.
The New York Times also reported that some U.S. Marines were proposing to be pulled out along with the Britons and also wanted to move to Afghanistan because they feel they are better suited to fight in that war (Youssef, 2007).
This news was more related with Toby Dodge’s book Inventing Iraq where in the old days the British colonizes part of the Ottoman territories in the now modern Iraq and built frontiers to keep natives from uniting and throwing them out of their colonies.
British has long been trying to conquer Iraq because of its vast oil resources and widening its territories. Although it has established itself temporarily, ultimately it failed to conquer the country due to Britain’s misguided policies plus the ever intervening attitude of the U.S. The result was a failure of governance and ultimately the assumption of rule by the Iraqis. The author has explicitly vindicated the fate of the oppressed as against the oppressor and implied that no one has the right to rule anybody because it is unjust and immoral.
Youssef, N. A. (2007). Gates: British Drawdown In Iraq Due To Improved Conditions [Electronic Version]. Retrieved October 17, 2007 from http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/20393.html.