According to senior British military sources, their troops were prevented from pulling out of Basra in March due to American pressure. “The decision to stay on was made in London, it was a political and not a logistical one. The Americans flatly refused to pull out their consulate and it was them informing us that they intended to send down a brigade which decided matters in London.” The British government had concluded earlier this year the presence of its troops in Basra increased rather than decreased violence in the area. They thought outside forces created a rationale for Shiite militia to fight and hoped by withdrawing fighting and violence would decrease. American military leaders insisted withdrawal would open the way for Iranian agents and al-Qaeda to enter the area.
It is somewhat ironic that Bush continues asserting we must turn over control to Iraq forces but he opposes an example of local Iraq forces being given an opportunity to handle the situation. Perhaps, a reason the United States opposed British withdrawal was it might set an example to justify arguments of opponents of the current Iraq policy who claim the United States must get out of Iraq. Bush continues using the al-Qaeda and Iran argument to justify America’s presence in Iraq.