The best way to improve Britain's standing in the Middle East is to admit to a terrible blunder and withdraw
Jonathan Steele in Amman
Wednesday October 3, 2007
".....Some 42% of the public want Britain's involvement in Iraq to end as soon as possible, and another 22% by the end of next year, according to a BBC poll last month. The prime minister talked yesterday of a reduction of a thousand troops by Christmas, but if he says nothing specific about a full withdrawal, he will be disappointing millions of people, as well as the troops themselves.......
Britain, it is true, played a key role in the invasion and has allocated more troops than other European Nato members to the occupation. Leaving Iraq now would send a more significant message. Britain was perceived as participating in what most Arabs and Iraqis saw as the latest in a long line of imperial western interventions in their region. That is why withdrawal should not be done by stealth. For Downing Street to declare that Britain's part in the occupation of Iraq is over would be the single best way of improving Britain's standing throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world......
Similarly, whatever the US decides to do with its own doomed mission in Iraq is beyond London's control. There is no basis to imagine that by remaining in Iraq, Britain has some say over how long or short a time the US stays there. British politicians should take the advice of the British military. They should withdraw UK forces from Iraq completely, and do it now."