The White House is increasingly concerned about the timing of the British troop pullout from Iraq, expected to be announced by PM Gordon Brown in October, the Guardian reports. About 5,000 British troops remain in the Basra area, where they' have already withdrawn to an area around the city's airport. "It's the wild west. Basra is out of control," said a Brookings Institute foreign affairs expert.
US forces will likely have to fill the vacuum. "What Bush needs is a Union Jack flying somewhere in Iraq so he can trumpet that as full British participation," noted the analyst, who added that such participation "has been meaningless for some time." Brown expects the White House to announce steps towards a US troop drawdown in September, the Guardian says, giving Brown cover to make his move the following month.