Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Foreign troops in Iraq below 100,000 this year

(Yet more proof that Bush and Co. speak with forked tongue. They chastised Democrats for suggesting troop reductions, then follow what Democrats have suggested.)

Foreign troops in Iraq below 100,000 this year: NYT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of foreign soldiers in Iraq will fall below 100,000 by the end of the year, Iraq's national security adviser told The New York Times in a report posted Monday on the paper's Web site.

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, who is also chairman of a joint-Iraq-American group planning the transfer of security responsibilities to Iraqi troops from American, said the overwhelming majority of foreign troops would be out in two years, The Times said in a report from Baghdad.

The Times said Rubaie's statements offer the strongest indication yet that the Bush administration is preparing to carry out significant reductions in American forces this year.

"I believe, according to this conditions-based agreement, that the multinational forces will be reduced" to fewer than 100,000 by the end of the year, he told The Times.

"By the end of 2007, the overwhelming majority of the multinational forces will have left the country," he added.

There are now about 160,000 foreign troops in Iraq, including about 140,000 U.S. troops, according to The Times.

Several countries with small contingents have announced intentions to withdraw troops this year.

U.S. officials have said any withdrawal of forces would be contingent on whether Iraqi military units were capable of taking charge of the war against the guerrilla insurgency and maintaining order.

Rubaie told The Times there were detailed plans, now complete, to begin that withdrawal. "It's like an instruction book," he said.

The committee Rubaie is on also includes Gen. George Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, and Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador.