Global Policy Forum

The Coalition

Picture Credit: Department of State

After failing to obtain UN backing for its war in Iraq in 2003, the US faced international rebuke for its planned war of aggression and its defiance of world opinion. In order to make the attack on Iraq seem like a multilateral, widely-supported effort, President George Bush announced that the US (along with its UK partner) would assemble a "coalition of the willing" - a partnership composed of countries ready to send troops to fight in Iraq alongside the US.

At the outset, the coalition was said to consist of 49 countries. However, the United States alone provided more than 75 percent of the troops and a still higher proportion of the naval, air and ground-based weapons. A great majority of coalition members sent only token contingents, and often sent them in response to US arm-twisting, to curry favor with the world's only superpower or to gain access to Iraqi oil. Some did not send military forces at all, but rather medical teams, police and humanitarian units. Since the beginning of the occupation, many members of this coalition have either withdrawn entirely, or drawn down their forces, in response to the unanticipated risk of operations in Iraq and their citizens' strong opposition to the war and occupation.




Poland Withdraws from Iraq Coalition (October 5, 2008)

Poland joins a long line of countries who have withdrawn combat troops from the US-led coalition in Iraq. But at the same time Poland fears its withdrawal from Iraq will result in a loss of reconstruction contracts, which could have generated large profits. (Associated Press)

Brown Signals Iraq Troops Withdrawal (July 22, 2008)

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown promises a fundamental change in the UK role in Iraq during the first half of 2009. According to this Guardian article, Brown suggests the UK withdraw its troops in two years. Britain currently has around 4,000 troops based on the outskirts of the southern city of Basra.

Australia Ends Iraq Combat Role (June 2, 2008)

Australia, one of the initial countries to assign troops to the US- led coalition, will gradually withdraw and end its military operations in Iraq during 2008. 300 military personnel will stay inside the country on logistical and surveillance duties. Before being elected, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised to withdraw troops and stated that the previous administration abused intelligence information to justify joining the war in 2003. (BBC)



Bush Running Out of Friends Over Iraq (September 6, 2007)

Australian Prime Minister John Howard pledges to US President George Bush to keep Australian troops in and around Iraq for as long as "conditions on the ground" warrant it. Meeting in Australia for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit both leaders discuss the possibility of a drawdown of troops from Iraq. According to political commentators, Howard may be one of President George Bush's last remaining allies in the war in Iraq as Australian opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, plans to withdraw troops if he is elected Prime Minister in late 2007. (Independent)

US Prepares to Plug Hole Left By British Troops (August 14, 2007)

After Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to Washington, British military chiefs say that their troops will withdraw from Southern Iraq. The anticipated departure signals a consensus in the British military that the war is a "lost cause." (Sunday Telegraph)

More Nations Plan Pull-Out (February 22, 2007)

The US-led Coalition in Iraq is dwindling. Following the UK, Denmark announced that it would pull troops out from Basra. Other countries are also reviewing their participation in the Coalition force. Poland said it would withdraw 900 troops from Iraq and South Korea intends to bring home half of its contingent in April, while Lithuania is also considering a pull-out. (Independent)

Blair Announces Iraq Troops Cut (February 21, 2007)

While the US is sending 21,500 additional troops to Iraq, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the British army would pull 1,600 soldiers out of the Basra region in southern Iraq within the next few months. According to Blair, the troops cut means "the next chapter in Basra's history can be written by the Iraqis." Meanwhile, Iraq's National Security Adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said he hoped that the process "would have been accelerated further and speeded up rather than spaced out." The British military presence will continue until at least 2008. (BBC)

Slovakia Pulls Troops from Iraq (February 3, 2007)

Following Spain and Italy, Slovakia has withdrawn its 110 troops from Iraq. Elected in June 2006, left-wing Prime Minister Robert Fico delivers on his electoral campaign's promises, pleasing Slovak public opinion which had pressured the government for the withdrawal. According to Fico, "the war in Iraq is unbelievably unjust and wrong." He further acknowledged that the "security situation is catastrophic and if somebody wants to say the situation there has improved it would be a lie." (Herald Sun)

US, Britain Diverge on Troops in Iraq (January 29, 2007)

This Christian Science Monitor article points out that there is friction within the US-UK alliance. While the US defends a "surge" in the military contingent, Britain supports the Iraq Study Group approach, which recommends a withdrawal by 2008 and supports dialogue with Iran and Syria. Although officially, the UK government says there is no timetable for withdrawal, privately, ministers are anxious to pull the troops out from Iraq because of the rising pressure of public opinion and the burdens imposed on the British Army as a result of its occupation in southern Afghanistan.



Blair Urges Iran, Syria to Help on Middle East, Iraq (November 14, 2006)

Despite US President George W. Bush classifying Iran and Syria as part of an "axis of evil," UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says these Middle Eastern countries could help to foster a resolution to the ongoing conflict in Iraq. In a major foreign policy speech, Blair invited Iran and Syria to join the dialogue for peace in the Middle East, on the condition that they renounce their support for terrorist organizations and nuclear proliferation. This Der Spiegel piece points out that the staunch alliance between Bush and Blair may fracture as a result of Blair's proposition to these "rogue states."

Japan to Withdraw Its Troops From Iraq (June 20, 2006)

Tokyo will pull out its 600 soldiers stationed in southern Iraq. A majority of the Japanese public opposed sending troops to Iraq, which was "more important politically than militarily." The small deployment gave Washington the comfort of having another ally present in Iraq, while allowing Tokyo to establish the precedent of sending troops into a hostile environment. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi portrayed the mission as "strictly humanitarian" to conform with the country's pacifist constitution which prohibits Japan from using force to resolve international disputes. (Los Angeles Times)

Italian Leader Calls Iraq Occupation 'Grave Error' (May 18, 2006)

Italian Prime Minster Romano Prodi, who defeated Silvio Berlusconi, an ardent supporter of President George W. Bush and the US-led war in Iraq, announced plans to withdraw Italy's 3,000 troops. Calling the invasion and occupation of Iraq a "grave error," Prodi joins the leaders of Spain, Poland and Ukraine in defeating pro-war incumbents and withdrawing from the "coalition of the willing." (Washington Post)

Bush's Crumbling "Coalition" in Iraq (April 11, 2006)

Italian Prime Minister-elect Romano Prodi has vowed to immediately withdraw Italy's 2,600 troops from Iraq. Further diminishing the "coalition of the willing," Italy's withdrawal leaves only three countries – the US, UK, and South Korea – with more than 1,000 troops in Iraq. As The Nation points out, no "coalition" member besides the US ever had more than 5,000 troops in Iraq, and many contributed fewer than 100 troops to the war and occupation.

UK Troops ‘Could Begin Iraq Withdrawal in Weeks' (March 7, 2006)

According to Lieutenant General Nick Houghton, the ranking British officer in Iraq, British troops may begin to gradually withdraw from Iraq. Noting that Britain's withdrawal depends primarily on the progression of Iraq's government and military, Houghton indicated that withdrawal would take place in stages, and that most of the UK's 8,000 troops would exit Iraq by summer 2008. A "residual" force will remain in Iraq, Houghton said, that can "maintain a low profile." (Guardian)



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