Sunday, December 16, 2007

Britain's handover of Basra a tad premature

As British PM Gordon Brown declares victory and hands over control of the port city of Basra to the Iraqis, Shiite militias there are murdering women deemed "un-Islamic" and importing arms from Iran.
There have been 48 women killed in six months for “un-Islamic behaviour”. The murders in the teeming southern port of Basra have highlighted the weakness of the security forces and the strength of Islamic militias as Britain prepares to hand over control to Iraqi officials today.
And when the thugs aren't killing women, they're receiving a flood of arms from Iran.
However, Major-General Jalil Khalaf, the police chief, said the city’s 28 militias were better armed than his men. “They control the ports which earns them huge sums of money” he said.

As well as skimming profits from oil exports, they were importing weapons from Iran.

“You could smuggle a tank across that border if you wanted to,” he added.
But in the meantime, Brown says all is well in Basra.
Gordon Brown told the Commons last week that Iraq was now a democracy, that violence in Basra had fallen by 90% and that the Iraqis were “taking control over their own security”.
I guess if by "taking control over their own security" he means "running an organized crime syndicate", you can't say he's wrong.

Update: I missed a companion article in the Times that provides a good analysis of how and why Britain got it wrong in southern Iraq. The opening paragraph hits it on the head:
The British difficulties in southern Iraq resulted largely from the classic error of allowing political pressure at home to shape operations.
The rest of the article is full of good analysis, but that one sentence says it all. The British army is immensely capable, but no military operation can succeed without political will at home.

1 comment:

adirtymartini said...

I'm glad they're out of there. The women there, the mentality there - it ain't going to change. Since neither the US nor Uk ever thought this through properly it can't limp on forever. The people of Basra wanted them out. They did as much as they could. No doubt the negative coverage will be music to Al Qaedas ears. We never learn re propaganda. At some point tho they have to get on with it. Afghanistan is more important.