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.
A more cautious reduction may reflect concern expressed by the Iraqi and US governments about British intentions.
If the Guardian is right, the real story here isn’t that Britain is withdrawing from Iraq, but that they’re actually planning to stay longer than previously planned. That seems like a pretty important qualifier.
Now, if Tony Blair announces in tomorrow’s speech a firm deadline of 2008 for withdrawing the rest of Britain’s troops, as the Guardian also reports, that will be news. But I betcha he does nothing of the sort. It’ll be “if conditions allow,” just like it’s always been.