The British government has decided to delay plans to increase the number of its troops fighting against the ISIL terrorists in Iraq by the upcoming elections, amid growing fears that any possible casualties could prove a vote loser.
Observers believe any public backlash could change the results of one of the UK’s closest political contests in decades.
Back in December, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced that additional troops are needed to be sent to Iraq to train Iraqi forces fighting against the ISIL terrorist group.
The forces would expand Britain’s force to “the low hundreds” and would offer basic infantry training, as well as specialist advice on dealing with deadly roadside bombs, he said.
The mission was supposed to include trainers and a small deployment of soldiers from The Parachute regiment.
But now, Downing Street is holding back the deployment with military sources saying that no extra troops will be sent to Iraq this month.
“It is unsurprising that they would not want to take that kind of risk at the moment,” a government source said.
Meanwhile, a London-based political commentator believes that the British authorities are afraid of the public backlash of the move which could be reminiscent of the unpopular 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
“They knew that the war in 2003 was deeply unpopular and remains deeply unpopular and there is no support for further military intervention,” Chris Bambry told Press TV on Wednesday.
The analyst, however, reiterated that Britain will continue the mission after May 7 national elections.
“At the same time, they are determined to continue the policy of falling behind the United States of America, and therefore have committed warplanes to help the US battle the ISIS, and want to maintain the special relationship with the United States despite the unpopularity of these military adventures,” he added.
The United Kingdom has already joined two unpopular US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Latest polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of Britons believe that their country’s involvement in the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan was not worthwhile.
Also majority of the British people believe the involvement in Iraq war was unjustified and damaged their country’s reputation around the world.