Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Coalition in Iraq Continues to Dwindle

VIENNA, Austria - It's a coalition of the dwindling. The U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq is losing two of its most important allies - Italy and South Korea - and up to half a dozen other members could draw down their forces or pull out entirely by the end of the year.

The withdrawals are complicating America's effort to begin extracting itself from the country, where a fresh onslaught of deadly attacks on coalition forces is testing the resolve of key partners such as Britain and Poland to stick with the mission despite the dangers.

Some observers say Iraq's deteriorating security situation is an argument for coalition forces to stay - not leave - and perhaps even deploy additional forces to help tamp down violence as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki works to shift all security duties to Iraqis over the next 18 months.

Underscoring the reality, the Pentagon said Tuesday it is shifting about 1,500 U.S. troops from a reserve force in Kuwait to western Iraq's volatile Anbar province to help the Iraqis establish order there.

Increased instability, violence and radical Islamism in Iraq could require "a larger role for overt, coordinated, multilateral intervention, involving the key regional powers, to stabilize the situation," defense analyst Christopher Langton of the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies warns in a new report, Military Balance 2006.

No comments: