September 2, 2007

basra.jpg  Guardian UK:

British troops began pulling out of Basra Palace last night, and expect to hand control of the base to Iraqi forces in the next few days, amid new Anglo-American recriminations about the aftermath of the Iraq war.

The UK battlegroup in Saddam Hussein's former compound comprises about 500 troops and their redeployment to the city's airbase is the penultimate stage of Britain's presence in the country. They began withdrawing last night in an operation which might last several days, the Ministry of Defence said.[..]

Transatlantic strains over Iraq continued at the weekend with an attack on the US from a second retired British general. Major General Tim Cross, the deputy head of the coalition's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, denounced Washington's postwar policy as "fatally flawed". He insisted he had raised serious concerns about the country sliding into chaos with Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary at the time, but he had "dismissed" the warnings.

"The US had already convinced themselves that Iraq would emerge reasonably quickly as a stable democracy," he told the Sunday Mirror. "Anybody who tried to tell them anything that challenged that idea - they simply shut it out."

On Friday Major General Sir Mike Jackson, head of the army in 2003, called the American approach "intellectually bankrupt". Sir Mike also singled out Mr Rumsfeld for criticism, saying his claim that US forces "don't do nation-building" was "nonsensical".

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