The Arabic News.com – 2006-06-17 23:01:56
Iraq War Made World More Dangerous, Say Britons
(June 15, 2006) — Twice as many Britons believe that the Iraq war has made the world more dangerous compared with those who hold the opposite view, according to a new survey.
The Washington-based Pew Research Center, in a poll of 17,000 people in 15 countries between March and May, found more people worldwide were more concerned about the US presence in Iraq than about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
In Britain, 60 percent of respondents said that the Iraq war had made the world more dangerous, with only half the number holding the opposite view.
Some 41 percent of Britons also felt that the US presence in Iraq represented a great danger to peace, more than the number of French or Germans, even though their countries, unlike the UK, refused to be militarily involved.
The highest number in the UK was the 45 percent that believed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a great danger to world peace.
On other issues, just over a quarter of Britons expressed a great deal of concern about climate change, while only 9 percent said they were worried about the spread of bird flu.
Iraq War Blamed for Resignation of Thousands of UK Reservists
(June 15, 2006) — Some 50 percent of reservists have resigned from Britain’s Territorial Army since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, according to detailed information obtained under the country’s Freedom of Information Act.
The figures obtained by the Scottish National Party (SNP) show that between October 2003 and October 2005, the Territorial Army lost 15,670 soldiers.
Although there is generally a high number of turnover among reservists, the resignees were replaced by only 13,570 new recruits, leaving a further shortfall of 2,100 among its 32,000 members.
An SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, Christine Grahame, said that the resignations were a clear signal of the crisis in the Armed Forces “as a result of this hugely damaging Iraq war and a defence and foreign policy which is storing up massive problems.” More than 13,000 reservists, including from Britain’s Territorial Army, have so far served in Iraq to help offset the overstretch suffered by the Armed Forces, which are also deployed in Afghanistan and the Balkans, among other overseas operations.
In March, the government’s watchdog, the National Audit Office, warned about the growing shortfall in the number of military reservists, which total some 84,000, saying that it found one-in-six were planning to leave next year.
It highlighted an already 20 percent shortfall in recruitment, and said that it would now be difficult to sustain military operations without their help.
Time to Withdraw UK Troops from Iraq, Say Families
(June 10, 2006) — Some families of British soldiers serving in Iraq launched a new petition today, calling on Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw “demoralized” troops from Iraq.
The unprecedented revolt from wives and mothers of serving soldiers, who described the war as “based on lies,” was highlighted at the fifth annual Stop the War Coalition conference in London Saturday.
They were joined by sons, husbands and grandsons, calling for the safe return of Britain’s remaining 7,000 troops in Iraq as a “matter of urgency.” In a petition to Blair, they said that “already too many people on both sides have died and too many others have suffered” since the 2003 invasion.
“The situation in Iraq is deteriorating. It is an abuse of the loyalty of members of the British armed services to continue to force them to risk their lives in an immoral war which a majority of people oppose,” it said.
STWC, which has grown to become Britain’s biggest ever peace group since the launch of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, said that its latest conference was important because thousands of Iraqis are killed every month, “many victims of random massacre by the US.” Nine British soldiers died in May, the highest monthly figure since 2003 and close to 2,500 American soldiers have also lost their lives and many thousands more have suffered serious injuries, it further pointed out.
“Twenty-five percent of Iraqi children suffer from either acute or chronic malnutrition. Much of Iraq has only a few hours power a day and is without clean drinking water or a functioning sewage system,” the peace group said.
It said that the “anti-war movement has to be as visible and vocal as possible to help end the war and bring Blair to account for his war crimes.” “Blair hopes that however bad it gets in Iraq, he won’t face any political consequences for taking Britain into an illegal war, but the majority of people in Britain oppose the war and want the troops to come home,” SWTC said.
Delegates from over 150 organizations were attending the conference, including political parties, trade unions, campaign groups, peace organizations, civil liberties groups and faith and community groups.
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