LONDON (AP) - Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce on Wednesday a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, the BBC reported.If the Brits pull about 3,000 troops out by the end of 2007, and we are increasing our troops numbers by 21,500, this cuts the increase back to 18,500. And we are conducting the increase by holding troops already there longer and sending new troops early, both without all the training or equipment they need, we have clearly gotten to the end of our ability to effect change militarily in Iraq.
Blair will also tell the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance before it that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. said, quoting government officials who weren't further identified.
The BBC said Blair was not expected to say when the rest of Britain's forces would leave Iraq. Currently, Britain has about 7,100 soldiers there.
See also Victory in Iraq is not an option.
Update: Feb 21, 1:53 PM CDT
This is from Juan Cole today:
"Tony Blair is taking 1600 troops out of Basra in the next few months and will aim to be down to only 3,000 or so (from 7,100 now) by the end of the year. Denmark is also going home.I wonder how long it will take for Gen. David Petreaus to get the idea that he is in a killing field with his troops and has no way of changing the actual situation. It looks like Tony Blair has figured that out and decided to act on it this year and next.
This is a rout, there should be no mistake. The fractious Shiite militias and tribes of Iraq's South have made it impossible for the British to stay. They already left Sadr-controlled Maysan province, as well as sleepy Muthanna. They moved the British consulate to the airport because they couldn't protect it in Basra. They are taking mortar and rocket fire at their bases every night. Raiding militia HQs has not resulted in any permanent change in the situation. Basra is dominated by 4 paramilitaries, who are fighting turf wars with one another and with the Iraqi government over oil smuggling rights.
Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come."
Without a draft, the U.S. simply does not have enough troops to pacify Iraq, no matter what strategy is applied. Bush/Cheney really want to blame the problems they are facing on the Iranian, but the Iranians are just a small side issue in Iraq. The U.S. has lost because it bit off a whole lot more than it had teeth to chew, and then did even that in a manner that can only be described as grossly incompetent.
Twenty-three more months, or a pair of impeachments, or a pair of resignations or other such removal from office of Bush and Cheney. That's probably another 2,000 dead American soldiers, 20,000 or more severely wounded soldiers, and God only knows how many Iraqis dead or wounded. For nothing more important than Bush's ego.