Thousands Reject U.K. Iraq Troop Pullout
AP | February 25, 2007
LONDON -- Thousands of anti-war protesters converged on London Saturday, calling on Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw all of Britain's troops from Iraq and voicing fears over a potential conflict with Iran.
Several thousand marched through the rainy capital, according to initial police counts. That was far smaller than the turnout predicted by organizers, who hoped to top the several hundred thousand who rallied in London in 2004 to contest Britain's role in the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Blair said Wednesday that Britain would withdraw about 1,600 troops from Iraq over the coming months and aims to cut its 7,100 troop level to below 5,000 by late summer -- if Iraqi forces can secure the southern part of the country.
"Whether 2,000 troops come home this year or not, it is too little too late and we must intensify our call for all troops to be withdrawn now and for Britain to break the link with George Bush's foreign policy," said Lindsey German, head of the Stop The War Coalition, which organized the demonstration.
Speakers at the rally, and at a second demonstration in Glasgow, Scotland, also voiced fears the United States and Britain could take military action against Iran over its nuclear program.
The U.S. and some allies claim Tehran is using a civilian energy program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons, an allegation Iran denies.
Blair on Wednesday rejected suggestions a military conflict was likely.