British trapped in Basra vacuum

#1
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai...30.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/08/30/ixnewstop.html

Iraqis urge the Army to reclaim the streets from Shia rebels, reports Thomas Harding in the troubled city

After three deaths in as many weeks the British Army has stopped patrolling the streets of Basra, choosing instead to remain in barracks under daily bombardment despite pleas from residents to take on the Iraqi insurgents.

With troops now moving only in Warrior armoured vehicles on patrols not more than 100 yards from base, forces loyal to the rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have stepped into the power vacuum, roaming the streets with rocket-propelled grenades and AK47s.

Vital reconstruction has been halted and the citizens are suffering deprivations daily.

But the military insists that its strategy of waiting out the barrage is preferable to attacking Sadr's Mahdi army militia, which, they argue, would lead to an inevitable escalation of violence and the deaths of civilians.

Instead there is a ring of steel around Basra with Challenger 2 tanks guarding almost every bridge into town to monitor the return of an estimated 600 insurgents from Najaf, where they left the Imam Ali shrine on Friday.

Sadr, unlike Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered Shia leader, does not have widespread support in Basra but he has still attracted a significant number of the impoverished, religious fanatics and mercenaries.

Having handed back power to the Iraqis in June, the British also say they do not have the political authority to intervene.

But the current strategy has not gone down well with residents, who are subjected to curfews, dwindling food and water supplies, scant basic amenities and daily intimidation from the militia. The local police are also inadequately armed or protected to take on the insurgents without British support.

Article continues...
Surely that can't be right, no political authority?
 
#2
I thought the journalists were almost all shacked up in Bagdhad - this sounds like it might be Mr Hardy making what he was told in the bar last night into an article.
 
#4
Sounds like quiet orders to avoid casualties. If you don't patrol, you don't encounter IEDs. Crap way to run a railroad, though. Kind of defeats the purpose of being there.
 
#5
Well, surely if the Iraqi Government is back in sole sovereignty the British forces don't have political power. The Iraqi Governemnt can request their aid but so far haven't seemed to do so.

They might have though, my current affairs is fairly good but things may well have happened below the media radar. I know not.

It's a shame they seem to be on the defence, i remember all the photos flooding back of UK soldiers walking about in berets, sunglasses off, chatting to the local population and helping rebuilt schools, water-mains and hospitals while the American soldiers in Baghdad were being intermittantly blown up.

Why did it change? Or were the media too zealous in presenting Basra as a semi-peaceful and comparative idyll?

Civ
 
#6
Civilian_In_Green said:
Why did it change? Or were the media too zealous in presenting Basra as a semi-peaceful and comparative idyll?
Civ
Moqtada al Sadr happened. And the Iranians have been stirring the pot. There were Iranian agents in Basra before the gunsmoke had cleared last year.
 
#7
How would Iran gain from any of this? The sooner Iraq is peacefully on it's feet (if ever) then the sooner the two can get down to doing something productive like trade or tourism and such.

Was there any way Moqtada al Sadr and his lot could have been nipped in the bud or had the rot set in before anything could be done? War seems more complicated than it was historically, hell of a challenge.

Civ
 
#8
I hear the "lock downs" are becoming more frequent and it has nothing to do with a lack of political authority

It is clear that the Treasury is influencing commander's decisons at a low level.

Hmmmm.... political interference on the battlefield ...Vietnam anyone?

When this thing is studied by historians in years to come it will make vietnam look straightforward.

Problem is our journalists are to frightened to challenge the government. Why would they? Government gave 'em a medal right :twisted:
 
#9
Having not been back to Basra for a few months, that article paints a similar picture to Bos in 1998/99 when the British Army had about 5000 troops, supporting (Well actually doing very little apart from driving to different PX and Ecos to drink and eat) while just 1 Infantry Battalion did anything worthwhile for the locals. If everyone is combined to camp what benefits do we offer to the locals ??...Still plenty of time to get online lads.
 
#10
Civilian_In_Green said:
How would Iran gain from any of this? The sooner Iraq is peacefully on it's feet (if ever) then the sooner the two can get down to doing something productive like trade or tourism and such.

Was there any way Moqtada al Sadr and his lot could have been nipped in the bud or had the rot set in before anything could be done? War seems more complicated than it was historically, hell of a challenge.

Civ
Does the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war ring any bells, CIG? Or the one million-plus casualties? No? Thought not. The southern Iraqis are Shia Muslim. So are the Iranians. The ruling group under Saddam was Sunni.

More basically, the Iranians don't want a western armed camp in their backyard and will do anything to disrupt US/Brit presence. There's also the small historical matter of the Iranians being Persian and the Iraqis Arab. The two races have been fighting each other for about....oh 1000 years.
 
#11
Ah! Unlikely to settle down any time soon then...

Why are we there again? "Lost cause" springs to mind. St Jude may be suffering from overwork.

That said, the army still functions as one of the best despite being run on a shoestring. The impossible seems not to be.
 
#12
Pride gets us out of the shit that our political masters put us in...shite equipment........shite situations, shite constraints, shite manning etc.we adapt because Shit rolls downhill..no-one wants to be the one to say this doesn't work or we can't do it because...We always adapt our practices or approach to make it work.why? Because at it's basest level our soldiers and mates lives depend on it working somehow..........most of the time it's not what its designed for but it has been adapted and it's all we are going to get.
 
#13
The Iranians were on the streets well over a year ago in Basra and also offering the financial aspects to some of the militia covert work. The lock down system is in place to protect the troops, obviously, anyone else on Telic 2 could probably tell you that the most part revolved around self preservation and unfortunately not the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure. Sad but possibly true. Ask me again in ten years when we will still be there.
 
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Guest
#14
Civilian_In_Green said:
How would Iran gain from any of this? The sooner Iraq is peacefully on it's feet (if ever) then the sooner the two can get down to doing something productive like trade or tourism and such.

Was there any way Moqtada al Sadr and his lot could have been nipped in the bud or had the rot set in before anything could be done? War seems more complicated than it was historically, hell of a challenge.

Civ
Its' called Shiite Islam, tends to be more important to the locals than tourism or trade...
 
#15
[quote="Benjaminw1
Its' called Shiite Islam, tends to be more important to the locals than tourism or trade...[/quote]

:D :D :D :D
 
#16
Fair enough but starting fights has got them an invasion...peace and trade might get them both some sort of reliable infrastructure and standing in the world. Surely it's better to preach from a tower than a war-torn hole?

I don't understand it, yet, not for want of trying.
 
#17
Civilian_In_Green said:
I don't understand it, yet, not for want of trying.
In the real world. CIG, Santa Claus doesn't exist, the tooth-fairy won't put money under your pillow, and the various sects of Islam will always be at each other's throats. Peace and trade don't enter the equation when Arabs and Persians are involved.

In the wider Arab world, the Syrians, Jordanians and Egyptians regard each other with deepest suspicion - dating back to mutual treachery and manipulation during the 1967 Six-Day War - everyone hates the Saudis and Gulf Arabs in general, and the only thing they have in common is that they use displaced Palestinians as cannon-fodder for their various, labyrinthine foreign policies.

The Lebanese blame Yasser Arafat for helping trigger a 15-year civil war which left the country in shi*-state and killed 300,000. They don't allow Palestinians to vote or own property. But they do use them as guerrillas against Israel's northern frontier.

Everyone fears Iran, now close to acquiring nuclear weapons, and the only real regional power(Israel apart) with military clout. But as I've already told you, Iranians are Persians and Aryan in origin, while the Arabs are Semitic. They've been blood-enemies for a millenium or more.

That's the real world of the Middle East.
 
#18
Too true. At the beginning of his book ‘Does America need a foreign policy?’ Henry Kissinger describes the relationships between states in the Middle East as medieval!
 
#19
Medieval? Now that WOULD be a step towards progress. They ain't even that good. :lol:
 
#20
Backing up Claymore, anyone interested in more background (and anyone heading out there on ops) should have a read of Lawerance's 7 pillars of Wisdom. he does a few chapters of why that part of the world is so f*cked and why all these different tribes would never be able to form an "Arab State".

Remembering at the time of his writing, the Turks were in decline and there was a real fear in the West of a super Arab state.
 

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