The Iraqi government is saying the British Army is no longer needed to ensure security in southern Iraq:
Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, has said that British troops are no longer needed to maintain security in the south of the country. “We thank them for the role they have played, but I think that their stay is not necessary for maintaining security and control,” he told The Times, a London-based newspaper, in an interview published on Monday.
“There might be a need for their experience in training and some technological issues, but as a fighting force, I don’t think that is necessary,” al-Maliki said. British forces were based in the southern city of Basra after the US-led invasion in 2003, but they handed over responsibility for the region’s security to Iraqi forces last December.
About 4,100 British troops are still based at the airport outside Basra. Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, was already expected to significantly cut the number of troops in the contingent over the next year.
If Brown has any sense, he’ll send them home immediately, in case a greater level of violence breaks out in Iraq while they are still there, which would make it harder to remove them.