The End of the ‘Multinational Coalition’ in Iraq?

By Sadie Bass

Jul 28, 2009 6:54pm

ABC's Jean Fievet reports from London: Say goodbye to the international coalition in Iraq. Seems like America is soon to be the only foreign country to still have troops there.  All remaining British forces are being forced to withdraw to Kuwait because the Iraqi parliament has not yet ratified the new deal signed last month by the British and Iraqi governments that allows for UK personnel to stay in Iraq. The existing agreement allowing for British forces to be based in Iraq expires on July 31st.   According to the Ministry of Defence in London, the so-called “relocation” will take place “over the next few days”, and involves mainly Royal Navy personnel who were supposed to stay and train the Iraqi Navy and protect Iraq’s waters and all-important oil platforms. They number about 150. The vast majority of British forces in Basra withdrew last April. On Monday the Iraqi parliament adjourned for the August recess and holy month of Ramadan. The Brits say that “procedural delay” led to the parliament’s failure to ratify the new agreement. It has had successful first and second readings, but not yet its third and final one. Today the Ministry of Defence called the delay “unfortunate”. In a statement on its website, it said “we are continuing to seek a solution with the Iraqi Government that will provide our forces with the sound legal basis they need. We must respect the Iraqi democratic processes.”  It said the troop pullback was “not final.” British Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth says the British government has been "deliberately keeping a low public profile" on the issue so as not to increase the risk to UK forces. He acknowledges that the parliamentary recess for August and Ramadan “means the agreement may not now be ratified until late September." Some Iraqi parliamentarians have said that the government might devise another deal that does not require parliamentary approval. That remains to be seen. Either way, it’s all rather embarrassing for Britain. The British press are calling it a “final and ignominious retreat”, and the main opposition party has described it as a “fiasco”.

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