Denmark, Lithuania to follow UK out of “coalition of the willing”

Denmark has announced that it will pull all of its troops out of Iraq in August, following the British plan to scale back its forces in the country. Tony Blair announced that troops in southern Iraq would be cut by 1,600 to 5,500 in the coming months. The UK currently has about 7,100 troops stationed in and around Basra. About 450 Danish troops are stationed in southern Iraq under British command. Meanwhile, Washington is planning to send some 21,000 troops into Iraq in addition to the 138,000 already there. But both London and Washington are citing supposedly “improved” conditions in Basra as justifying the British pull-out. (AlJazeera, Feb. 21) Following the British and Danish announcements, Lithuania stated it is planning to pull its 53 troops out of Iraq. The Lithuanians serve under Danish command, just as the Danes serve under Britain. (Reuters, Feb. 21)

Poland has already announced that it will bring home its 900 troops by the end of the year. South Korea, which has a contingent of 2,300 troops in the northern city of Erbil, intends to withdraw half by April, and its parliament is calling for a complete pull-out by the end of the year. Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Japan and New Zealand have already withdrawn their troops.

Australia has announced it will keep 1,400 soldiers in and around Iraq, while the Bulgarian parliament voted to keep its 155 troops beyond the expiry of their current mandate next month. (Belfast Telegraph, Feb. 22)

See our last post on Iraq.