Letter: Now we must get the troops out of Iraq

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The Independent Online
Sir: I hope we do not further cynically betray the bravery Iraqis showed in going to the polls by not challenging the fate for the Middle East mapped by the neo-conservatives and implemented by the White House.

Democracy is meant to provide representative government and one aspiration shared by the under-represented Sunni community and the Shia is the rapid removal of coalition troops from Iraq. It is interesting how much effort is going into our government's allegation that it is best not to give a date for withdrawal, given the continuing construction of at least 12 of the planned 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq.

The main cause of the insurgency is the presence of US and British troops. For the Shia to draw Sunni support and avoid civil war, the shared Shia and Sunni aspiration for a rapid withdrawal of occupation forces must be met. This alone can legitimise the new government for the Sunni community and de-legitimise armed revolt.

My last communication with Iraqi friends, made while working on reconstruction in Baghdad, revealed that they were all afraid of what the future held and most wanted to leave the country. The neo-con inspired US national security doctrine of 2002 that led to invasion of Iraq is still in place, and the deliberate destabilisation or invasion of Iran and Syria will plunge the Middle East into further gratuitous war, spawning more support for Wahabi terrorism.

For Iraq, for British national security, British voters' choice is to vote against Blair in May - or for him and therefore for more bloodshed in the Middle East.

Dr STEPHEN PALMER

Cheadle, Greater Manchester

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