Final British mission in Iraq in disarray

Deborah Haynes of The Times details the breakdown in negotiations that were to secure the remaining British mil presence in Iraq, post OP TELIC.

Interesing to see Deborah pick up on al-Malki's view of the British Government, following the growth of militias in the British AOR.

Now it may be more of a problem with the speed of the Iraqi legislature then outright objection to our presence / involvement. Isn't this another example of Gordon Brown grandstanding the drawdown of BRITFOR and reassuring the British people of the role (assisting further in the training of Iraqi SF) of those remaining, when he really wasn't in a position to make such a reassurance?

Either way, yet again BRITFOR are left in an embarrassing situation on the ground, and a British Prime Minister with his eye firmly off the ball.

Britain’s final military mission in Iraq is in disarray after a failure to seal an agreement with the Baghdad Government by the end of last month forced two British ships to leave and scores of Royal Navy trainers to suspend work.

Lieutenant-General Chris Brown, the top British military official in Iraq, now also looks set to leave earlier than expected.

London and Baghdad have failed to finalise a deal to enable a contingent of British forces to continue training and support operations after the end of the British combat mission on Sunday, affecting an estimated 700 soldiers and sailors.

Negotiators had hoped to get the deal wrapped up weeks ago but the timing of an agreement is now uncertain. Iraqi ministers approved the draft accord, which must still go before parliament, only yesterday. Iraqi MPs have a reputation for dragging their heels on legislation.

“The parliament is independent. We cannot determine the agenda for them,” a senior Iraqi official said. The Ministry of Defence said that the delay in finalising the accord was because of the complexity of the negotiations.

A second Iraqi source believed that politics was more of a factor, saying that Britain was still out of favour with Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, for allowing militias to thrive in southern Iraq, where British troops were based after the invasion.

Liam Fox, MP, the Conservative defence spokesman, said: “It is hard to believe that this situation could not have been sorted out through diplomatic channels in time and avoided. But there must be a suspicion that the Government is so consumed with their internal problems that they have overlooked this.”

The British Navy has trained about 2,000 Iraqi sailors and Marines to defend the country’s oil platforms and pipelines off the southern port of Umm Qasr since 2004. British ships have also helped to protect Iraq’s economically and strategically crucial offshore oil infrastructure alongside the US Navy. With no legal remit to remain, however, a British frigate and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship had to sail out of Iraqi waters by Sunday, leaving the US Navy to handle the protection mission alone, with support from the Iraqi side.

The US military has warned that the departure of the British frigate and auxiliary vessels will put Iraq’s vital oil platforms off its southern coast at greater risk. Iraqi sailors and Marines have also been without their British trainers and mentors since Monday — a task the US military said it would be unable to fill.

“The US Navy is committed around the world. It will take some time to determine a solution for providing the training, and we are not sure how long it will take,” a spokesman said in Baghdad. “We might be able to protect the oil platforms. The UK is part of a task force. We will now have a smaller force while the UK pause their support. There will be more risk to the platforms during this pause but we are working on ways to mitigate the risk.”

Even the new draft agreement reached yesterday authorises only 100 British trainers to remain for another year after ratification by parliament, fewer than the 400 personnel originally envisaged. It does allow for the return of British ships to help to protect the Iraqi oil infrastructure. Two ships typically carry about 300 sailors.

Lieutenant-General Brown, the deputy commander of coalition forces since March, had hoped to stay in Iraq for a year but will now be returning home at the end of July, along with all the other British officers in Baghdad. Britain had maintained a high-profile presence at the coalition headquarters in the capital, reflecting its status as the top US ally in the war.

British officers filled the deputy position to many US generals and acted as advisers to a number of senior Iraqi officers at the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior and other key Iraqi ministries. This is all set to end, with US officers moving in to replace their outgoing British counterparts where necessary.

A small British base inside the green zone, where about 200 soldiers are located, is now also set to close.

The Ministry of Defence said that the draft agreement was in line with what Gordon Brown and Nouri alMaliki had decided in December, with naval training the focus of the continuing British effort. However, until the accord is approved by the Iraqi parliament, instead of preparing Iraqi sailors, the Royal Navy’s trainers will be tasked with helping to pack away Britain’s remaining kit.

“Our future role will focus on protection of Iraq’s oil platforms together with training support activities,” an MoD spokesman said, adding that the ministry welcomed the decision by the Iraqi Cabinet to approve the draft agreement.


Kit Reviewer
Fcuk 'em. Bunch of ungrateful ars.eholes. I hope someone blows up their oil platforms.
I can't say I'm really surprised, at the turn of events. Anything that Gormless Gordy has his sweaty hand in automatically turns to shite.



Book Reviewer
The comment about al-Maliki seems that it could ring true to me:

He could well argue: "My own troops have proved more effective than yours in defeating the bad boys and restoring law and order in Basra, so what exactly is it that have you got to teach us? We'll stick with the Yanks, though - they take a more macho approach. Toodle pip!"


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Andy_S said:
The comment about al-Maliki seems that it could ring true to me:

He could well argue: "My own troops have proved more effective than yours in defeating the bad boys and restoring law and order in Basra, so what exactly is it that have you got to teach us? We'll stick with the Yanks, though - they take a more macho approach. Toodle pip!"
My bold. I thought that was the whole point! The Iraqi troops should be the ones policing Iraq. If they don't want us, fine, stop all aid though.
Kitmarlowe said:
lsquared said:
In our 'democratic system' the military takes direction from the government of the day. Need anything else be said?
Would help if the Government of the day had any f**king direction to give.......
Might also be useful to have a government! Presently, we have the equivalent of a bunch of one-eyed cats fighting in a sack full of shi......
Auld Yin

The Iraqis cannot defend the Oil Platforms themselves - not yet anyway.

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