- Jul 31, 2005
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
Two of America's allies in
Iraq are withdrawing forces this month and a half-dozen others are debating possible pullouts or reductions, increasing pressure on Washington as calls mount to bring home U.S. troops.
Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December. If Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland and
South Korea reduce or recall their personnel, more than half of the non-American forces in Iraq could be gone by next summer.
Japan and South Korea help with reconstruction, but Britain and Australia provide substantial support forces and Italy and Poland train Iraqi troops and police. Their exodus would deal a blow to American efforts to prepare Iraqis to take over the most dangerous peacekeeping tasks and craft an eventual U.S. exit strategy.
"The vibrations of unease from within the United States clearly have an impact on public opinion elsewhere," said Terence Taylor of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. "Public opinion in many of these countries is heavily divided."
In the months after the March 2003 invasion, the multinational force numbered about 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries — 250,000 from the U.S. and 50,000 from other countries. The coalition has steadily unraveled as the death toll rises and angry publics clamor for troops to leave.
I have read unsubstantiated claims that the British plan to withdraw soon.A British drawdown would be the most dramatic.
Although Prime Minister
Tony Blair's government insists there is no timetable and British forces will leave only when Iraqi troops can take over, Defense Secretary John Reid suggested last month that a pullout could begin "in the course of the next year."
South Korea, the second-largest coalition partner after Britain, is expected to withdraw about 1,000 of its 3,200 troops in the first half of 2006. The National Assembly is likely to vote on the matter this month.
Many coalition members have pledged to stay in Iraq for all of 2006; at least one, Lithuania, has committed to the end of 2007. And the coalition is still drawing new members, most recently Bosnia, which sent 36 bomb-disposal experts in June.