Tuesday, December 14, 2004
The unnecessary furore over the deployment of the Black Watch by Labour backbenchers has forced Blair and Hoon to take greater account of any announcements on further troop movements to Iraq. During his visit on December 8th to Basra, Hoon stated that the current British force in the southern sector of Iraq would not receive reinforcements unless the security situation were to drastically change. The anticipated rise in violence during the run-up to the elections in January 2005 was factored into this calculation.

There are a number of factors feeding into the status quo: any further announcements on troop deployments will become politicised, following the mishandling of the Black Watch; and, planners may have persuaded their political masters that the consequences of 'overstretch'have arrived. If the latter is true, watch for the British contingent to come home during 2005, as Blair reasons that he has to pay his dues to the EU's Rapid Reaction Force just as he genuflected in Iraq.


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