Tuesday, September 27, 2005


It is an ambiguous situation in Basra. Contradictory stories are introduced by the different sides involved in what happened on September 19. Several questions or issues are raised.

If the two British soldiers had a mission requires working undercover, can't the British commanders in Basra inform the Iraqi police commanders to coordinate their work. A joint operation room is vital to avoid such situation.

The Iraqi police force in Basra, recruited & trained by the British, is not trustworthy by the British themselves. It seems that something went wrong in choosing, organizing & training the cadets.

The British's conduct to retrieve the two soldiers reflects a predisposition to violate law & order if it oppose their interests. It is obvious through
the jail causing dozens of Iraqi prisoners to flee in the confusion. Mr. John Reid, the British defense secretary, said
"We remain committed to helping the Iraqi government for as long as they judge that a coalition presence is necessary to provide security."
But what kind of model of enforcing law & order they are representing to the Iraqis to follow.

An environment of threat, congestion, and tension makes people totally alerted & suspect every body. And amid such environment, two Britons put on Arab headdress touring the city using a civil car expecting that no one would notice them. Moreover, they shot policemen:
"The soldiers, who were said to have been wearing Arab headdress, were accused of firing at Iraqi police when stopped at a road block."
The circumstances under which the disguised soldiers were detained, storming the prison and its consequences:
"…suggest that British commanders on the spot still cannot trust the Iraqis they trained - not just the police, but the judges as well." And "The use of force, rather than waiting for the men to go before an Iraqi court, could also undermine the US and British attempts to build up the authority of and respect for the Iraqi courts and police."
This could disturb the image of the British people as one of the oldest nations which adore law & order.
Still, the British could be blamed for the kind of personnel chosen to form the Basran police force:
"…the Badr brigades are the more disciplined fighting force among the Iraqis. In theory, they were supposed to have disbanded. In reality, like Mr Sadr's people, they have infiltrated the police force. Although the police force is nominally British-trained, the British have had to stand aside as this infiltration has taken place. The commander of the Basra force admitted in a Guardian interview in May that he only controlled 25% of this force."
Surprisingly, Mr. John Reid approved the way of storming the jail:
"The defence secretary, John Reid, said the army had been "absolutely right" to break into Basra's Jamiat jail to help free the British soldiers, who were later found in the custody of militia forces."
In stead of destroying the jail, crushing cars & causing Iraqi detainees to flee, the British troops could besiege the jail and search it for their colleagues.
It is obvious that the Basran police force is infiltrated by different militias. Steven Vincent wrote before his death
"…security sector reform is failing the very people it is intended to serve: average Iraqis who simply want to go about their lives."
"Recruited from the same population of undereducated, underemployed men who swell these organizations' ranks, many of Basra's rank-and-file police officers maintain dual loyalties to mosque and state."
It seems that the British are trying to finish a work of hodgepodge. Vincent said:
"When I asked British troops if the security sector reform strategy included measures to encourage cadets to identify with the national government rather than their neighborhood mosque, I received polite shrugs: not our job, mate."

"The fact that the British are in effect strengthening the hand of Shiite organizations is not lost on Basra's residents."
Strengthening the hand of Shiite had been noticed by Vincent in several fields, but he referred to the police force saying
"In my time with them (the British), not once did I see an instructor explain such basics of democracy as the politically neutral role of the police in a civil society. Nor did I see anyone question the alarming number of religious posters on the walls of Basran police stations."
A call from the Conservative leader Michael Howard is an admirable one when he said:
"I think it has got to be made clear to the interim government that this state of affairs is completely incompatible with the kind of peaceful, stable, sustainable Iraq we want to see, and they say they want to see, and these militias must be confronted".
"The government came under pressure to change course when Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, called on coalition forces to attack the independent militias in the country. Mr Howard said the current strategy was not working but he opposed setting a date for withdrawal."
I agree with Mr. Howard, but "Is the shadow of Iran away from what's going on in Iraq?" Some people say that Iran is trying to use the Shiite militias as a card in the dispute with the western countries about its nuclear program.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Many Americans (and British) are well aware of the mis-handling, mis-management of the British Commanders in the South of Iraq.

But it goes deeper than the Military leadership. It is the "British" manner of dealing with populations friendly or unfriendly.

It has been described in various manners, all trying to say the Brits try to walk the middle line and not offend anyone.

But there is something else going on because just one day before the latest incident, British military had carried out a number of arrests, including that of Sheik Ahmed Majid Farttusi and Sayyid Sajjad—two leading figures in the Shia Mehdi Army militia, led by the radical cleric Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr.

So maybe we don't know (and they are not telling) the whole story of what is really going on.

Except I think its safe to say if something is not done and done soon, Iran will control the southern part of Iraq.

If they don't already.

Papa Ray
West Texas

6:52 AM  
Blogger programmer craig said...

The British soldiers were kidnapped. By the status of forces agreement, Iraqi police are required to return British troops accused of crimes to the British authorities. They did not. Instead, they turned the British soldiers over to a MILITIA. Sorry, Ibn Alrafidain, but the British were absolutely right to handle the situation in teh way they did. Their soldiers are alive, as a result, instead of being decapitated on an internet video.

8:57 PM  
Blogger DagneyT said...

Without reading other comments first, I must point out that Basra has been a region/city that has been said, mostly online, as "Little Iran", and rumor has it that Iran has more influence there, than Baghdad. The reason for "undercover" could be trying to get to the route of it. If indeed Iran has the most influence in Basra, then the fight is against Iran, not Iraq or Iraqis.

12:47 AM  
Blogger DagneyT said...

Sorry. I meant "root", as in the underground part of a plant, not "route", as in a direction to a destination. I don't want to mix up your understanding of English.

Having read some of the comments, I gather I'm not the only one who has read of the Iranian connection in Basra. We had an American journalist killed there, because he was talking about this to the world!

12:51 AM  
Blogger jon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your analysis is helpful. I do however think that Iran has infiltrated the south. Many of the Shi'ite leaders have spent time in Iran and people think that is where Moqtada's money comes from. Where else would he get enough to pay his followers? I don't think it is particularly the nuclear issue -- Iran does NOT want a secular democracy next door. That's what their own people want and the mullahs' hold on their society is not popular.

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