The Guardian reports the British military is to withdraw from Iraq by July. “Britain’s six-year occupation of southern Iraq will end by the summer, Gordon Brown announced today on a surprise visit to Baghdad.” The British will begin to redeploy in March. “Around 300 troops will remain to help with the training of Iraqi forces.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports the Shoe-thrower is ‘too severely beaten’ for court appearance.
Dargham al-Zaidi said he was told a judge had been to see his younger brother, Muntazer, at the jail where he has been held since throwing his shoes at the US president during a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday…
The family went to Baghdad’s central criminal court expecting a hearing, Dhargham said, but were told the investigative judge had been to the prison and they should return in eight days. “That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court,” he said.
And McClatchy Newspapers report U.S. troops confront Iraqis rallying in favor of shoe-thrower.
University students rallied for Zaidi in Fallujah on Wednesday, drawing the attention of U.S. forces.
Students raised their shoes and threw rocks at American soldiers, who reportedly opened fire above the crowd. Protesters said that indirect fire wounded one student, Zaid Salih. U.S. forces haven’t confirmed the account.
“We demonstrated to express our support for Muntathar al Zaidi, but we were surprised with the entrance of the U.S. military,” said Ahmed Ismail, one of the protesters. “Unconsciously, we raised our shoes expressing our support for al Zaidi, but they attacked us.”
Four at Four continues with OPEC production cuts, Somali pirates, military preparations for the Obama inauguration, and killer asteroids.