"A senior British official said Maliki’s unity government will speed the handover of security control from U.S.-led forces to Iraqis, letting London bring some troops home by mid-year.
Three years after the invasion to topple Saddam, the United States has some 133,000 troops in Iraq while the British troop strength is around 7,000, mainly patrolling Iraq’s south.
At least 2,450 U.S. soldiers and 111 British troops have been killed in Iraq since 2003, and both countries are keen to start drawing down their military presence.
"The aim is to take Iraq to a position where the multinational force is able to withdraw during its (the government’s) period in office," said a British official, accompanying Blair on his fifth visit to Iraq since the war." Reuters
US and British policy in Iraq has rested on two assumptions:
– The insurgencies have little or no popular support.
– The successful completion of a fair and open democratic political process will bring an end to both the unsupported (sic) insurgencies and sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Arabs in the country.
A minor theme that has emerged recently is found in the pronouncements of LTG Chiarelli , USA who has been saying from Baghdad that the violence is motivated largely by unemployment. This is the same officer who during a previous tour of duty in Iraq insisted that there were really no important differences between the Sunni and Shia communities, and that they all saw themselves as "Iraqis together."
The claim that the insurgents do not have significant public support is nonsensical. They could not exist without significant support in various forms.
The belief that political process will halt the violence appears to be based on the notion that the ethno-religious communities do not have real and differing interests, and that what has happened in Iraq is somehow a matter of mis-communication which can be straightened out by lawyering things into shape.
I don’t think any of that is true, but now we are going to know for sure and I, for one, would be glad to be proven wrong in my pessimism.