Morning Brief: Bush to reduce U.S. troops in Iraq

Top Story FILE; Mark Wilson/Getty Images Speaking at the National Defense University, U.S. President George W. Bush will announce today the withdrawal of about 8,000 troops from Iraq by February 2009, according to prepared remarks released by the White House. Under the president’s plan, up to 4,500 troops will head to Afghanistan to shore up ...

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592742_080909_bush5.jpg

Top Story

FILE; Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Speaking at the National Defense University, U.S. President George W. Bush will announce today the withdrawal of about 8,000 troops from Iraq by February 2009, according to prepared remarks released by the White House.

Top Story

FILE; Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Speaking at the National Defense University, U.S. President George W. Bush will announce today the withdrawal of about 8,000 troops from Iraq by February 2009, according to prepared remarks released by the White House.

Under the president’s plan, up to 4,500 troops will head to Afghanistan to shore up the fight against the Taliban, which has gained strength in recent months. The shift would bring U.S. troop levels there to around 31,000.

“While the enemy in Iraq is still dangerous, we have seized the offensive,” the president will say. “Iraqi forces are becoming increasingly capable of leading and winning the fight. As a result, we have been able to carry out a policy of return on success — reducing American combat forces in Iraq as conditions on the ground continue to improve.”

The withdrawing troops include 3,400 combat support forces, a Marine battalion, and an Army combat brigade.

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Americas

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A top advisor to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez, quit yesterday for “strictly personal reasons.”

Brazil’s president says he will use his country’s new oil riches to end poverty.

Asia

Kim Jong Il is rumored to be ill as North Korea celebrates its 60th anniversary. Be sure to read FP‘s exclusive, “The Secret History of Kim Jong Il.”

The cooking show did it: Thailand’s prime minister has been ordered to resign.

U.S. drones, aiming at the al Qaeda-aligned Haqqani network, killed 23 people in northwest Pakistan.

Pakistan’s new president, Asif Ali Zardari, was sworn in Tuesday. “It is a wonder that any sane man would want the job,” the Economist muses.

Middle East and Africa

Al Qaeda’s No. 2 has released a new video denouncing Iran for collaborating with the United States.

Supporters of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, a radical Iranian opposition group, rallied outside the White House to protest its expulsion from Iraq.

Former Mossad operative Rafi Eitan suggested in an interview that Israel might seize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Europe and the Caucasus

A British jury convicted three men of conspiracy to murder in the transatlantic liquid bomb plot, but not of a more serious charge.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to withdraw Russian troops from Georgia proper. But they’re staying in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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Today’s Agenda

OPEC meets in Vienna. Steve Mufson comments, “They have tasted what $145-a-barrel oil tastes like just in July, and they thought it was good.” Nonetheless, markets expect OPEC to maintain current production quotas.

The European Union is expected to offer Ukraine closer ties today, albeit cautiously.

Arlington, VA, hosts the U.S.-Israel High Technology Forum.

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