Gas Week

EWN Publishing

US retreats from Iraq, Dutch leave Afghanistan; Australia faces withdrawal from Afghanistan unless another ally can be found to provide protection for troops

Posted by gasweek on 15 September, 2007

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said in a report to Congress that Washington’s “surge” strategy – the decision to deploy an extra 30,000 troops primarily in Baghdad – had reduced sectarian and terrorist violence there. General Petraeus also said he would reconsider whether further withdrawals of US troops were warranted from as early as March next year, reported The Australian Financial Review (12/9/2007, p.13).

Facts, lies and statistics: The Petraeus report’s findings conflict with others, including a US Government Accountability Office report that finds Iraq had failed to achieve 11 out of 18 security benchmarks, including stamping out militia violence and making political progress on reconciling Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

US drawdown by mid-2008? General Petraeus said that any premature withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would invite disaster, but he suggested the force could drop from 160,000 to 130,000 – its pre-January surge level – by mid-2008 without sacrificing any security gains.

Aus troops in Iraq: Australia has 1575 troops either serving in Iraq or supporting the mission in neighbouring Middle East countries, including 515 in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province training and backing up Iraqi forces.

Aussies in Afghanistan: In Afghanistan, up to 1000 Australian troops in Oruzgan province rely on 1700 Dutch soldiers for logistical support, while Canada has 2300 troops based near Kandahar.

Australian troops seeks friendly troops in Afghanistan: With a shadow hanging over the Dutch mission, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has warned that Australia will have to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan unless another ally can be found to provide protection. Canada has ruled itself out.

The Australian Financial Review, 12/9/2007, p. 13

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