U.S. Hoping to Start Withdrawal from Iraq in December
US hoping to start its withdrawal from Iraq in December (London Daily Telegraph, p. 1)
The American military has set a target of December for handing over responsibility for security to Iraqi army and police units, says a classified document being circulated among senior officers. It is the first time that a date has been put forward for the phasing back of US involvement in controlling the insurgency that has raged for more than two years. The proposal envisages that after the planned election of a five-year parliament in December the American military would withdraw from patrolling, starting a gradual pull-out from the country. America and Britain have declined to detail an exit strategy in public for fear of encouraging insurgents and being seen to cut and run.
However, the deadline illustrates American confidence that the development of Iraq’s security forces is proceeding as planned. The police now number almost 87,000 officers and the army has 72,500 troops. A further 19,000 men and women are being trained.
An American officer confirmed that the withdrawal document had been circulated. He emphasised that it was intended as “prudent planning”. “No one in the chain of command is pushing us to complete our work faster or compromise our developed processes to meet some arbitrary timeline,” he said. Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, Iraq’s chief security adviser, told CNN’s Late Edition yesterday that larger withdrawals would not take place until the middle of next year.
So long as this is a planning scenario rather than a firm timetable, this is excellent news, indeed.