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Britain's top soldier sparks storm with call to withdraw from Iraq soon
Cat : War Against Iraq
Date : 2006-10-13 17:04:43                      Reader : 324

Bush one day said that withdrawal is a decision of the army on the ground. They know better than others the reality of the situation. Today British Head of troops revealed the reality which is in full contradiction to Bush / Blair claims!!

Associated France Press 13/10/2006

Britain's top soldier sparks storm with call to withdraw from Iraq soon

by Prashant Rao

LONDON (AFP) - The head of the British army has triggered a storm by calling for Britain to withdraw "sometime soon" from Iraq and settle for something less than its initial ambition to set up a pro-western democracy.

General Richard Dannatt, chief of the general staff, said in an interview with The Daily Mail published Thursday that the army's presence in Iraq was "exacerbating" security problems in Iraq as well as around the world.

Hours after his initial interview, Dannatt, who has a reputation for being outspoken, took to the airwaves to deny impressions that he was at odds with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Defense Secretary Des Browne.

"I see eye to eye with the prime minister," Dannatt told BBC radio, adding he did not intend "to have this hoo-hah which people have thoroughly enjoyed overnight in trying to suggest that there is a chasm" with Blair and Browne.

However, in both interviews with BBC radio and Sky News television, Dannatt stuck by his comments to The Daily Mail which were published overnight and which he said were given with Browne's consent.

He insisted only on clarifying that in some areas of Iraq, the army's presence was provoking violence, while in others, particularly in the main southern city of Basra, it was welcomed by the people.

The BBC reported that Blair, who is in Scotland for talks on Northern Ireland, had been involved in conference calls overnight on the issue.

Though the intention of invading Iraq was to put a pro-Western liberal democracy in place that "might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East," Dannatt told the Daily Mail he did not think "we are going to do that."

"I think we should aim for a lower ambition."

He also said: "I don't say the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them."

Dannatt added that Britain should "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems".

In his broadcast interviews later, he sought to counter any impression of an immediate pullout and said moves had to be coordinated with the United States, which provides the bulk of allied troops in Iraq.

"I mean that when the mission that we have gone to do is substantially complete we should be leaving," he told BBC radio.

"We don't want to be there another two, three, four, five years. We've got to think about this is terms of a reasonable length of time," he added.

"When the job is done we will go, and I hope that will be sometime soon," he said.

His remarks were interpreted as contradicting Blair's defense of the presence of British troops in Iraq in September, when he said that if Britain were to withdraw, the country "will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril".

In response to his comments, a spokeswoman for Blair's Downing Street office told AFP: "It's important that people remember that we are in Iraq at the express wish of the democratically elected Iraqi government, to support them under the mandate of a UN resolution."

Dannatt went on to say: "We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear ... As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time."

The general, who rose to his post as head of the army in August, said that the "military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in."

"Whatever consent we may have had in the first place ... has largely turned to intolerance."

He also slammed the plans for rebuilding Iraq, saying that "history will show that the planning ... was poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning".

Anti-war campaigners, however, welcomed Dannatt making public his views, with the left-wing Stop The War Coalition even inviting the general to speak at the group's next public demonstration.

Britain has 7,200 troops in southern Iraq patrolling an area around Basra, a bastion of Iranian-backed Shiite militias. Since Britain joined the invasion three years ago 119 British troops have been killed in Iraq.

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