Quote: "The Foreign Secretary told MPs that the British-run province of Maysan would be handed over in January, and that Basra could follow shortly after. "In our own area of responsibility we expect Maysan to follow in January and the progresses of the current operation in Basra gives us confidence that we may be able to achieve transition in that province too at some point next spring," she said."
Tune in at "some point next spring" to see whether Margaret Beckett took lessons in forecasting from Michael Fish.
Yeah fecking right. British handover of strategic areas like Basra is totally beholden to the US. If America cedes total control of Baghdad to the Iraqis, then the UK can do the same in Basra. Last time I heard there is a push to pump in more GIs into Iraq.
If anything, unless the UK totally abandons Iraq, there is no realistic chance of a drawdown in the number of UK troops.
I have said this before and I will say it again. The only way out of Iraq is going to be in a big hurry. A lot like when Saigon fell? Remember all them Hueys getting pushed overboard into the sea in the moments after the sudden realisation came that the war could not be won by guns and tanks?
I shudder at the thought of the Green Zone being overrun.
1) Hand-over Maysan in January.
2) Hand-over Basrah in the Spring.
3) Major draw-down of troop committment to Iraq, leaving a reinforced light BG as 'training' and 'support' to Iraqi Army in Shaibah or Basrah Airport.
4) Step down as PM claiming a 'success' in Iraq.
5) If it all goes pear-shaped, new PM looks bad, and will probably blame the CGS anyway.
Am I just too much of a cynic to believe that the timetable has more to do with a Blair legacy than the good of the Iraqi people...