US, Britain mull eight Iraq options: report

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: AFP
Byline: n/a
Date: 21 October 2006


LONDON, Oct 21, 2006 (AFP) - London and Washington are discussing a range
of eight options in a bid to tackle escalating violence in Iraq, the
Guardian newspaper reported Saturday.

Courses of action being considered include a phased withdrawal, the
break-up of Iraq into a federal model and "one last push" -- a short-term
injection of troops to create enough security to build confidence in the
Iraqi government, the paper said.

The report comes as US President George W Bush meets US generals Saturday
to discuss strategy amid a spike of violence in the troubled country which
has seen 75 US troops killed in October alone.

The immediate withdrawal of coalition troops seems unlikely, the Guardian
said, quoting an unnamed Foreign Office diplomat saying: "We could pull out
now and leave them to their fate but the place would implode."

An early exit would also constitute "an unpalatable humiliation" for the
Bush administration, the paper added.

However, it did suggest that British forces in the area would likely be
slashed by half in the middle of next year, followed by further reductions

A phased withdrawal is "still the likeliest option" but depends on Iraqi
security forces becoming properly trained before it can happen, the paper

The option of holding talks with Iran and Syria received "virtual
consensus" from the US Congress special commission headed by former
secretary of state James Baker, set to report after congressional elections
in November, the Guardian added.

It predicted that direct talks were unlikely but said: "The US could well
give the nod to negotiations between a sovereign Iraq and its powerful