Still on track in Basra

The question some people have asked is: Have British forces failed in Basra? The answer is no.
Quite right. It was bumbling politicians who failed to understand Iraq or put together a realistic plan for after the invasion, mixed with the American failure to grasp the hearts and minds concept across the board.

Basra was fcuked when I was there last year. I hate to think what it resembles now.
The question some people have asked is: Have British forces failed in Basra? The answer is no.
Of course. Namely British politicians have failed in Basra and in Iraq.

The United States, Britain and other countries that made up the U.N.-mandated multinational force in Iraq undertook to help provide security while a representative national government was elected, under a new, democratic constitution.
UN Security Council recognised USA (and others) as occupying force in Iraq, as occupants. No UN mandate was issued.

There is no anti-government insurgency,
...because the army and the police are overcowded by insurgents. would they fight against themselves?

...and very little evidence of an al-Qaeda presence in southern Iraq
...and in other parts of Iraq. How many al-Qaeda members were captured in Iraq? Very few (if any).

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said we will fulfill our obligations to the Iraqi people and to the international community.
It looks like a book with mr.Brown's quotes has been published and mr.Milliband keeps it under his pillow.
Interesting piece of spin by our illustrious part-time Defence Minister and his junior collegue the Foreign Minister.

Anybody notice that there was not a single mention of Iran in the entire text? I bet that upset a few of the Washington Beltway rabble from both sides of the squabble.

And it's alright for those of you still in Iraq, apparantly all the fuss going on around you is the locals jockeying for position. Apparently, they're not attacking you at all.... :x

There is no anti-government insurgency, and very little evidence of an al-Qaeda presence in southern Iraq, whose population is over 90 percent Shiite. But there is intense political competition between longstanding rival Shiite movements, too often spilling over into violence.
And these are some of the comments from the article! Who needs enemies with this lot!

Steamboater wrote:
What crap! You Brits never learned a thing from your trying to bully the mideast. So now you're trying to cover up the chaos you'll leave behind with ridiculous rationals for your exit. It's like saying you changed the lightbulbs and painted the walls, but what you've failed to see is that the house has no foundation. That's what you, the U.S., the Aussies and the Danes etc will have left behind--a country with no basis for anything but murder. Nice job Brown and Miliband. What next? God only knows what your next diasastrous adventure will be.
8/31/2007 2:25:21 AM
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kevrobb wrote:
Sure, sure. You also denied fleeing your urban base in Amara last year, claiming to have "handed it over" to Iraqi troops. But the British troops there all said they'd been mortared out.

...only for the Mahdi Army Marsh Arabs of Amarah to loot your abandoned base, seize the provincial capital, and burn down all the police stations.

British Leave Iraqi Base; Militia Supporters Jubilant
Some Troops Will Reposition to Border With Iran

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 25, 2006

'BAGHDAD, Aug. 24 -- British troops abandoned a major base in southern Iraq on Thursday and prepared to wage guerrilla warfare along the Iranian border to combat weapons smuggling, a move that anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called the first expulsion of U.S.-led coalition forces from an Iraqi urban center.

"This is the first Iraqi city that has kicked out the occupier!" trumpeted a message from Sadr's office that played on car-mounted speakers in Amarah, capital of the southern province of Maysan. "We have to celebrate this occasion!"

Maj. Charlie Burbridge, a British military spokesman, said the last of 1,200 troops left Camp Abu Naji, just outside Amarah, at noon Thursday, after several days of heavy mortar and rocket fire by a local militia, which local residents identified as the Sadr-controlled Mahdi Army. Adopting tactics used by a British special forces unit in North Africa during World War II, 600 of the soldiers plan to slip soon into the marshlands and deserts of eastern Maysan in an attempt to secure the Iranian border...'

If you can't hide from the irate Iraqis in the marshes or the desert, there's always Basra airport.
8/31/2007 3:23:30 AM
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kevrobb wrote:
Here's more Des:

Here's a good story:

'We have liberated Amara from the British. Basra next'
Saturday October 21, 2006
The Guardian
Ten days ago I sat on a mattress on the floor of a Mahdi army safe house talking to Abu Mahdi, a slim 40-year-old, bearded former Arabic teacher and low level commander in the Shia militia.

I had first encountered him in Najaf in August 2004, when the Mahdi army seized the holy city. Now he boasted of how his comrades were effectively in control of his home town, 200 miles south of Baghdad.

"As we have liberated Amara from the British, Basra is next," he said. "My men are everywhere, can you see the British anywhere? For the people in the street it's my men who rule the town."

Well, Des, it looks like Abu Mahdi knows his MoD.

8/31/2007 3:28:05 AM
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kevrobb wrote:
Looters Ransack Base After British Depart

Even your own party doesn't believe your rosy claims.,,2155360,00.html
Kevan Jones, a Labour member of the Commons defence committee recently returned from a visit to Basra, described the delivery of supplies to the British garrison at the Basra palace as "nightly suicide missions". He added: "We have a force surrounded like cowboys and Indians in the Basra palace." Other MPs said British troops told them the only reason they were staying in southern Iraq was "because of our relations with the US" and "American domestic sensibilities".

8/31/2007 3:32:26 AM
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kevrobb wrote:
One more thing. I'm not an American bashing the British. I'm a Brit furious with my own government.

Here's a fact about "plucky little Britain" that may surprise many people:

Britain has the world's second-biggest military budget. That's right, bigger than those scary bogeymen China (3rd biggest) and Russia (7th biggest). Not to mention Iran (24th), N.Korea (26th) and Syria (61st).

They admit it themselves:

"The UK Defence budget in 2005/06 is some £30.1Bn. In terms of monetary expenditure, this puts us second in the world on defence spending, although we are a long way behind the United States whose base Defence budget is some $400Bn."

Britain is also the world's second biggest arms dealer. Of course the US, with over $700 billion in various military appropriations this year, spends considerably more on war and weapons than the other 95% of humanity combined.

...just in case anyone is in any doubt about who the real military predators on this planet are.

Britain spends a lot of money on war. But not enough to hold down Basra, it seems.

Why has Britain wasted this vast military expenditure on a failed adventure in Mesopotamia? Why has our outlay brought us nothing but the world's contempt?
Because of a military policy that subordinates all other considerations to that of remaining in the Americans' good books.

And why do successive British govts do that? That's Des Browne's dirty little secret. Shall I spill the beans? Yes I shall.

Mr Browne feels condemned to traipse along behind America because he has no nuclear deterrent. His Trident missiles are serviced by Americans at Faslane naval base, behind locked doors that say "US personnel only".

They are now guided by an American GPS system whose signals Washington can shut down or manipulate at will. More than that, I'm convinced that even the launch codes, which change regularly, are set in the US, not in Britain.

Mr Browne - and Mr Brown above him - have no nuclear missiles. They have British-crewed vessels towing American-controlled missiles around the world's oceans. That's why they're such wimps about confronting US insanity.

I just know you're mad as hell at me for writing that in an American newspaper, Desmond.

8/31/2007 3:59:22 AM
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cpwash wrote:
If Basra is so safe, why didn't you send your prince down there, even in a tank?

8/31/2007 4:30:45 AM
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JPM-UK wrote:
As any fool knows, this piece by Messrs Browne and Miliband is delusional insofar as it attempts to conjur a British victory out of the mess that has been made in Basra, and self-contradictory, in its attempt to shift the blame to the Iraqis themselves. The British retreat from Iraq is a shameful conclusion to British policies that were always incoherent. If the British government thinks this piece is a sufficient explanation for the disastrous Iraq expedition, then it is truly psychotic, in the clinic sense that it has entirely lost touch with reality. More likely that what we see here is a cynical piece of spin-doctoring that they do not even believe themselves.
8/31/2007 9:21:35 AM
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kratt52 wrote:
It is clear that the British also savor the sweet taste of the Kool-Aid during the hot summer months.
8/31/2007 10:31:43 AM
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jaxas wrote:
It is just one excuse after another with these people. If you go into a neighbor's home because of rumors that he has explosives that could blow up the entire neighborhood, then you find that the rumors were false and you end up wrecking his home and injuring or killing some of his family members, guess what? You own it. You are culpable for restoring that neighbor's home. You are accountable for everything you did wrong. And believe mje, nothing you do subsequent to that is going to absolve you of the fact that you were wrong.

You can whine and wheeze all you want about how unfair all the criticism is. But in the end, you are stuck with this awful mistake for the rest of your life. That is what is happening to all of those people who were chanting USA! USA! USA! when an arrogant US president and his British poodle thought they could make great political hay out of that raunchy, warmongering sentiment. Now they are all tasting the bitterness of the fruit they picked and they don't like the taste therof. Tough. Bon Appetite'!
8/31/2007 10:57:40 AM
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kenonwenu wrote:
What I find most telling about this article is that the British govt has prostituted its foreign policy with the goal of maintaining influence in Washington.

Yet here, two of Britain's most senior cabinet ministers write an article justifying their Basra pullout, and it doesn't even make it onto the Washington Post's main web page. Hardly anyone has commented on it. No-one in America cares.

Do you still feel, Messrs Browne and Milliband, that your kowtowing to America has helped Britain to "punch above its weight", to use a favourite Whitehall expression?

Michael Gerson and Charles Krauthammer got the featured slots - a disredited shill and plagiarist, and a raving lunatic, were judged by the Washington Post to be more deserving of space than Britain's defence and foreign secretaries.

This is just humiliating. Britain's supine, obsequious government is just embarrassing its citizens with this sorry display.

grossman1 wrote:
Yeh, right, mate! Uninformed, disastrously uninformed, Colonial Brits with thick fingers and an overflowing ink well drew borders worldwide that have caused more death, destruction, and chaos than any American adventure. Now between them the US and Britain are lighting the fuse in the Middle East. and they are still disastrously uninformed and arrogant. I wouldn't look to you folks to get us out of this unholy mess. Your accent doesn't impress us anymore. Mate.
8/31/2007 1:20:21 PM
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MrAitch wrote:
No one is more hacked off with this than most of us British and I cant understand why some Americans are verbally abusing us ordinary people.
We have a weak, left wing, Idiot government who are so weak and cowardly- they always lie and spin about everything not only about what goes on in Iraq, Crime is out of control here in the UK, we have gangs of violent youths wandering around killing innocent people, and our glorious Police force still acts as Traffic cops who would rather prosecute Drivers for not wearing a seat belt or going a few miles over the speed limit..rather than tackling crime-and this Des Browne - a weak bumbling fool who could not organise a booze up in a brewery- Now look at how under valued, under paid, under supplied our troops are by this gang of Tight fisted Scots who rule us.. So dont do our ordinary servicemen down , who do a superb job with the minimum of support, and are paying with their lives daily

8/31/2007 2:30:38 PM
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lensch wrote:
I invite Browne and Miliband to look at pictures of the streets of Basra before the invasion and pictures taken today. Then see if they can talk of "intense political competition," or perhaps that is a code phrase for "chaos."
8/31/2007 3:47:59 PM
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michael_ah_oleary wrote:
Britain went into Iraq on a lie and and as a poodle of Hs bRITAIN
8/31/2007 4:01:57 PM
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michael_ah_oleary wrote:
Britain went into Iraq on the basis of a lie and in cahoots with George Bush under the guise of being in alliance with America. The Prime Minister lied, the Cabinet lied by default and was compliant, parliament failed to do it´s duty except for the Liberal Democrats, the press was compliant by and large . The troops paid for the lies and the erros. Money wasted and we still have Labour ministers trying to justify the debacle. The old adage ink never refuses paper is as true today as when it was first stated. The glamour and sense of power of office allows the truth to be overridden. The ministerial car, salary and expense account not to mention the adulation override all. Labour have failed as regards their constituency and the truth. They are no different from any other self serving political group.
8/31/2007 4:12:58 PM
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kevrobb wrote:
MrAitch, British troops are not under-supplied. As I said above, Britain has a bigger military budget than Russia or China.

Even American troops - who are the best equipped in the world - complain about not having enough equipment. All soldiers grumble that way in all armies.

The problem is that British forces are being committed to obviously unwinnable wars in civil-guerilla environments that are very corrosive to armed forces.

The problem is that Britain's government has slavishly followed a sinister and recklessly stupid US Govt into an illegal, unprovoked war that's doomed to failure.

The irony is that they did this to maintain influence in Washington. Where do they stand now? Their highest ministers have to defend themselves in a Washington newspaper (getting ignored by everyone except a few angry Brits) while Washington bigwigs line up to badmouth the British govt and armed forces.

Meanwhile GW Bush and Sarkozy practically have their tongues down each other's throats. If anything, France is better received in Washington these days than Britain.

Have you got it yet, Miliband? Britian is the doormat, uncomplaining, boring housewife, whose loyalty is taken for granted, whose wishes are always ignored, who sits around waiting for the reward of the silent and long-suffering, a reward that will never come. If hubby does ever pay attention to her, it will be to pat her on the head absentmindedly, more like a dog than a wife.

France is the feisty, mysterious younger woman, hard to please, just out of reach, and thus maddeningly enticing. After years of playing hard to get, just a glancing look, a whiff of her perfume, is enough to get Washington as nervous and excited as an infatuated schoolboy.

After everything Nu Labour (and previous govts) have done to suck up to the US, it's France who the Americans are looking to please, while Miliband and Browne plead for understanding in the back pages of the Washington Post.

The total failure of their policy in Iraq, and the imminent failure of their policy in Afghanistan, are matched by the humiliating failure of their policy towards America.
8/31/2007 5:27:18 PM
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badgervan wrote:
Rummy - you changed countries!
8/31/2007 9:23:57 PM
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MPatalinjug wrote:
There can only be agreement that the British contingent in Basra has done a creditable job of securing and stabilizing that province--but only up to a point.

For it still unclear whether the Iraqi government of PM Nouri al-Maliki, now in disarray and dysfunctional (and apparently in a state of end-stage paralysis), is in reality in a position to accept full responsibility for maintaing the gains in security and stability achieved by those British forces in Basra.

My sense is that it is not in a position to do so. That government in fact is very near collapse. In the event, once the British forces pull out--as the British people now demand--Basra will revert to anarchy and chaos.

What the British forces have done there, successfully and at great cost, will all have been for naught.

9/1/2007 5:54:38 AM
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bourassa1 wrote:
What gains in security, MPatalinjug? At the beginning of 2003, Basra was a fairly normal city. Now it's a free fire zone, with mortars exploding downtown, criminals fighting for control of oil smuggling, open gang war between Sadrists and the provincial government.

The British invasion and occupation has brought a collapse in security. It has nothing to do with Maliki's government and everything to do with mistakes and criminal actions by Britain's government, of which the most serious by far was invading in the first place.
9/1/2007 9:32:26 AM
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bourassa1 wrote:
This is exactly the hectoring, aggrieved tone the British government always adopts at home too, when it's in the wrong, knows it's in the wrong, and knows that everyone else knows it's in the wrong.

Whenever they say they want to "set the record straight", you can be sure a giant pork-pie (lie) is on the way.

If Mr Browne really wants to set the record straight on Basra, I invite him to do so.

He could start by explaining what two soldiers of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment were doing driving around Basra dressed as Arabs, in an unmarked Toyota Cressida packed with explosives and detonators, and shooting an Iraqi policeman at a checkpoint.

They could "set the record straight" on why they destroyed an Iraqi police station while springing their two agents from jail, and how this squares with the picture of co-operation between British and local Iraqi security forces.

The FRU, the same sinister Army unit that ran the IRA double-agent Stakeknife, who participated in dozens of murders and bombings with the full knowledge of the British govt (creating a huge scandal in Britain), was revealed this Feb to be in Iraq, operating under a new name, the innocuous-sounding "Joint Support Group".

Like the main British mercenary force in Iraq, Aegis (which used to be called Sandline) this unit had to change its name because the old name was linked to endless crimes and scandal.

Maybe Mr Browne would like to set the record straight about what this government-sponsored terrorist organisation is doing in Iraq. But I doubt it. So I will just assume that its purpose is to plant bombs, thus keeping the pot boiling, giving the US an excuse to stay in Iraq and build the permanent bases that have been the real goal of this war all along.

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