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It is difficult to know what Blair really thinks, as he has the ability to fake sincerity (always a useful political gift). However, if what he told Parliament today can be taken at face value, Blair claims that the Iraqis are now ready to take over security in Basra.

The reduced numbers of British troops will be concentrated at the airport (where the civilian staff retreated some time ago) and will support the Iraqis as needed. Perhaps more ominously they will be able to devote more time to border security (got to stop the avalanche of Iranian munitions crossing the nearby border). Blair was brushing aside questions about Iran.

Blair refused invitations to apologise for putting the troops in Iraq. He also spouted a very hard line on having to fight the terrorists in Iraq (ignoring the suggestion that if it was not for the invasion there would not have been any terrorists in Iraq).

The sort of vague timetables for the future withdrawal of troops, does not suggest this was an exercise in getting vulnerable troops out quickly.

The two cynical suggestions  I have seen about what Blair was doing were that (1) he was encouraging voters in the local elections due in May to think Iraq was almost over or (2) the whole thing was to distract attention from his aide Ruth Turner being questioned again by the police today.

You ought to be able to locate the statement and questions through this link for the next 28 days.

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/
 

by Gary J on Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 05:40:28 PM EST

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