May 23, 2006


Blair visits Baghdad to sketch out timetable for withdrawal (Greg Hurst and Ned Parker in Baghdad and Michael Evans, 5/23/06, Times of London)

BRITISH troops could start withdrawing from two Iraqi provinces within weeks, and Iraqi security forces could be in charge of much of the country by the year’s end, Tony Blair agreed with his Iraqi counterpart on a surprise visit to Baghdad yesterday.

Buoyed by the formation of Iraq’s new unity Government over the weekend, senior officials travelling with Mr Blair said that all foreign troops should be out of the country within four years.

Mr Blair is to hold further discussions on withdrawal at a White House summit with President Bush later this week.

Host springs surprise for PM: New Iraqi leader reveals more urgent and ambitious troop withdrawal than UK and US had admitted (Ewen MacAskill, May 23, 2006, The Guardian)
Nuri al-Maliki, the new Iraqi prime minister, had a surprise for Tony Blair and his entourage in Baghdad yesterday. At a joint press conference, Mr Maliki said British troops would hand over responsibility in two provinces to Iraqi security forces by next month and that he expected US, British and other foreign troops out of 16 of the country's 18 provinces by the end of the year, a much speedier and more ambitious schedule than the US and Britain have so far admitted to. [...]

Both Mr Maliki and Mr Blair's comments were telling. With the arrival at last of an Iraqi government, the US and British can at last begin to plan for specific withdrawals. The planes to carry troops home can be booked.

Bush Says U.S. Is Set to Shift Burden After 'Turning Point' (Peter Baker and Bradley Graham, 5/23/06, Washington Post)
"We can expect the violence to continue, but something fundamental changed this weekend," Bush said in a speech to the National Restaurant Association. "The terrorists are now fighting a free and constitutional government. They're at war with the people of Iraq. And the Iraqi people are determined to defeat this enemy, and so are Iraq's new leaders, and so is the United States of America." [...]

Bush has set a goal of turning most of Iraq over to Iraqi security forces by the end of the year, a target repeated on Monday by the newly installed prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 23, 2006 12:14 AM

Downing draw?

Posted by: ghostcat at May 23, 2006 1:10 AM

Restaurant Association?

Posted by: RC at May 23, 2006 9:08 AM

RC -

He must have been working the hummus angle.

Posted by: ratbert at May 23, 2006 9:27 AM

"Timetable for withdrawal" is not the same thing as "drawing down."

We "withdrew" from Vietnam, we had "drawn down" in Korea. Is that plain enough?

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 23, 2006 11:26 AM

No, we lost both of those.

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2006 11:37 AM

Troops coming home, along with perhaps an identified number to stay for ahwile (i.e. like Germany and Japan) should be ok with the American people.

And as noted above the Dems will quickly switch gears and claim it was there idea all along.

Posted by: AWW at May 23, 2006 3:41 PM