Media Misreports UK Withdrawal From Basra
Last night, the UK forces turned over their post in Basra to the Iraqis.
So how did the media report this event?
The Daily Mail says: “Iraqi joy at British ‘defeat’ as Bush makes surprise visit to Baghdad”
The BBC asked: Basra: Planned withdrawal or retreat?
The Evening Standard: Iraqi joy at British ‘defeat’ in Basra
The Brits were planning on reducing troop levels all along based on progress of the Iraqi forces and stabilization of the region.
The reason British troops have been able to decrease their numbers is because of the progress in the region. It is not because the UK forces were defeated.
And, the British troop reduction is no secret. Great Britain announced their plans several times since 2003.
The UK is just following the transition plans they established years ago for the fledgling democracy of Iraq:
** July 2005 (just days after the London Tube bombings) Times of India:
But observers said the news could have a significant strategic impact in the US-led so-called war on terror, which has seen terrorism hit western Europe.
The memo said that Britain was seriously planning to cut back its 8,500-strong Iraq contingent to 3,000 and that Washington hoped to hand over control of security to Iraqi forces in 14 out of 18 provinces in the country by early next year, thus slashing troop levels to 66,000 from 176,000.
** September 25, 2005 The Guardian:
British troops will start a major withdrawal from Iraq next May (2006)under detailed plans on military disengagement to be published next month, The Observer can reveal.
** October 11, 2005 People’s Daily Online:
British Defense Secretary John Reid said on Monday Britain will cut its troops in Iraq by about 500 to 8,000 in November.
“The total number of troops in Iraq following the deployment of 7 Armored Brigade will be around 8,000,” Reid told the House of Commons.
“This is about 500 fewer than at present, reflecting the closure of two small bases in Basra, the transfer of some training tasks to the Iraqi security forces and structural differences between the two brigades,” Reid said.
** March 13, 2006 The BBC:
The planned reduction of 800 British troops serving in Iraq announced by the UK Defence Secretary John Reid is not the first such withdrawal nor the biggest.
The Ministry of Defence says there have now been five such reductions and this is the largest since 2004. But it is significant.
…Officially, the reason given for this reduction is progress in Security Sector Reform (SSR)…
** August 23, 2006 London Independent:
A senior British commander said that it was “feasible” that the last British controlled region could be handed over to the Iraqi authorities by the middle of next year.
** January 11, 2007 The Telegraph:
Thousands of British troops will return home from Iraq by the end of May, The Daily Telegraph can reveal today.
Tony Blair will announce within the next fortnight that almost 3,000 troops are to be cut from the current total of 7,200…
In what will be the first substantial cut of British troops serving in southern Iraq, their number will drop to 4,500 on May 31. The announcement will be made by the Prime Minister before he steps down from office as an intended signal of the achievements the British have made in Iraq.
** February 21, 2007 The Guardian:
The prime minister is expected to say that Britain intends to gradually reduce the number of troops in southern Iraq over the next 22 months as Iraqi forces take on more responsibility for the security of Basra and the surrounding areas.
Ministers have taken on board the message coming from military chiefs over many months – namely that the presence of British troops on the streets of Basra is increasingly unnecessary, even provocative. The reduction of just 1,000 by early summer cited by officials yesterday is significantly less than anticipated in reports that British troops in southern Iraq, presently totalling 7,200, would be cut by half by May.
The UK announced the latest Basra troop withdrawals months ago in February. But, because of the nature of today’s mainstream media the the UK Defence Department was forced to release this statement today on the Basra withdrawal:
Handing over Basra Palace to the Iraqi authorities has long been our intention, as we have stated publicly on numerous occasions. We expect the handover to occur within the next few days. We will announce when the Palace has been handed over once the operation is complete. We will not give a running commentary of the operation.
The Iraqi security forces want to take full responsibility for their own security and the handover is a step towards that goal. The decision is an Iraqi-led initiative and is part of a Coalition-endorsed process and follows the successful handover of several other bases within and around the city.
UK forces will now operate from their base at Basra Air Station, and will retain security responsibility for Basra until we hand over to Provincial Iraqi Control, which we anticipate in the Autumn – but the final timing will depend on
whether the conditions for handover have been met. There remain a series of military tasks for our forces to provide in Basra in order to help the Iraqis meet those conditions, including further training of the Iraqi Security Forces, which we will conduct while retaining the capability to intervene in support of the ISF should the security situation demand it.
Later today, British Prime Minister Brown was also forced to remind the people that the withdrawal of British troops from Basra was not a defeat but a good thing.
But, that is the nature of the MSM beast in today’s world.
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