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• Transfer of Brits: Good, bad
Transfer of Brits: Good, bad
By the Times, London and the Guardian, London – October 22, 2004
It has been reported that the United States had asked for about 650 British troops to be transferred to an area south of Baghdad, freeing the 24th Military Expeditionary Force for other duties, almost certainly fighting in the Sunni Triangle. . . . The Liberal Democrats have swiftly condemned the idea that British soldiers formally might be under American command. … Such criticism is ridiculous.
Furthermore, the claim that British forces are being switched around in an effort by Mr. Blair to boost the president’s re-election attempt is juvenile and demeaning. . . . It is the Iraqi polls in January, not the U.S. ballot next month, that is behind the timing of this redeployment. It is essential that a proper poll can be conducted in cities such as Fallujah, if at all possible, so that the will of the entire Iraqi people can be recorded at the ballot box. It makes sense for some seasoned British troops to take over certain responsibilities near Baghdad allowing the best U.S. soldiers to drive Abu Musab al- Zarqawi and his ilk from the country.
The Times, London
If ever there was an example of mission creep, the request from the U.S. for the redeployment of some British troops in support of Americans south of Baghdad, is as dangerous as they come. …
If agreed, the British troops would be the first to have operated in direct support of the Americans – and the first to have been engaged inside the Sunni area south of Baghdad. No wonder senior military officials have been voicing concern. Deployment would mark a major escalation in Britain’s involvement in the occupation of Iraq, yet so far there has been no public discussion, no official details, or even the most peremptory parliamentary debate. …
Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, was right to warn that if British troops were deployed in the U.S. sector, they could find themselves associated with the more aggressive tactics used by the Americans. The last major exercise by the U.S. against Fallujah left 1,000 civilians dead and caused uproar in and outside Iraq over the heavy-handed tactics of American forces.
The Guardian, London
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