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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 13:00 GMT
Regional press worries about Iraq withdrawal
Arabic Press Graphic

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement that the UK is to reduce the number of its troops in Iraq is seen by some Middle Eastern newspapers as being a political rather than a military decision.

Several papers predict dire consequences for Iraq when the coalition troops leave, with a pan-Arab paper foreseeing the break-up of the country.

But a Syrian paper reports speculation that the announcement heralds the start of military action against Iran.

ABD-AL-RAHMAN AL-RASHID in PAN-ARAB AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT

The most significant implication behind Blair's Iraq pullout is political, not military... Blair understands very well the importance of staying in Iraq... in order to prevent the country from splitting apart... He knows that an exit in defeat means an added crisis for the world and not Iraq only... That is why it is a surprise that he insisted on staying in January and then decided to withdraw three weeks later.

ZUHAYR QUSAYBATI in PAN-ARAB AL-HAYAT

The issue is not about whether there is a dispute between Bush and his partner Tony Blair, who announced that he was preparing to "honourably" pull out of Iraq. The problem is that [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani... have not realised that the countdown to Iraq's sectarian wars and beheadings has begun, and the occupation will not save anyone.

EDITORIAL in EGYPT'S AL-JUMHURIYAH

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, with his timeline for UK troops to withdraw from Iraq, is trying to abandon the sinking American ship in the Iraqi swamp... He is trying now to withdraw his troops months before he leaves power, in an attempt to make up for a crime he committed while knowing perfectly well that its justifications were falsified to deceive the international community.

EDITORIAL IN UAE'S AL-KHALIJ

Tony Blair is trying to dress up the decision to withdraw his troops from Iraq... The decision to leave Iraq, or decrease the number of troops there, will inflame the anger of those inside or outside America who are against the continuation of the war... To have the so-called "'honourable" withdrawal that Dick Cheney was talking about, the occupation forces have no other option than to eliminate all Iraqis, divide Iraq into small entities and leave nothing on its land but destruction and devastation.

NUWAF ABU-AL-HAYJA in JORDAN'S AL-DUSTUR

The British have had bitter experience with the Iraqi people... So they have learned their lesson after losing more than 100 of their soldiers in Iraq... The British decision may not be so important militarily, but it is a very vital decision in painting a picture of Iraq two years from now.

EDITORIAL IN SYRIA'S TISHRIN

The surprising bombshell launched by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair when he announced the start of his troops' withdrawal from Iraq, has extremely serious and worrying consequences... Some people have even gone so far as to say that this step is taking place as the countdown for a military strike against Iran has begun... This is mere speculation, but it is clear that this withdrawal is definitely the start of the actual defeat in Iraq.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




SEE ALSO
Iraq leader welcomes troops' exit
22 Feb 07 |  UK Politics

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