UK troops attacked in Basra


British troops have come under attack by protesters in Basra rioting over fuel and electricity shortages.
Trouble broke out in several different areas of the southern Iraqi city after an estimated 2,000 people took to the streets in the stifling summer heat.

Angry crowds burnt at least one car and several tyres, and hurled rocks, bricks and other missiles at soldiers in riot gear who were trying to quell the protests.

The British military said seven UK soldiers had been hospitalised with "big bruises and some cuts".

Four Iraqis were also reported to have been injured, some when the soldiers opened fire with plastic bullets to dispel the crowds.

....Glad to report that the riot appears to have been contained with minimal casualties to our team , cuts and big bruises reported , but locals and our team reporting tensions running high, due to lack of fuel,which sparked the riot, and little or no progress in getting the rebuilding started

Local clerics not a big help, as they have the hump as well, with the lack of progress. Is there anyway to short-circuit the American administrations drip feeding, and getting a load of fuel, and several piles of planks, bricks and tools in, to get the locals started? Devil, work and idle hands etc
Is there anyway to short-circuit the American administrations drip feeding, and getting a load of fuel, and several piles of planks, bricks and tools in, to get the locals started? Devil, work and idle hands etc
Don't think so. As long as the septics are making the rules then we will have to tow the party line. On the good side, if it was the yanks in this situation, the body count would have been horrendous.
Vietnam anyone? Easy cliche, I know, anyone any idea how long this will take or it's outcome?

Disturbances have broken out for a second day in the southern Iraqi city of Basra as frustration over fuel shortages boiled over.
British troops have reportedly fired warning shots as groups of local people burned tyres and attacked vehicles.

It comes after scuffles in several different areas of the city on Saturday when an estimated 2,000 people took to the streets in the stifling summer heat to protest about the shortages and electricity black outs.

Power cuts and lack of diesel for generators have meant that air conditioning units and fridges have not been working in the 54C heat and high humidity.

The UK forces are trying to provide fuel in tankers to calm the situation.


Book Reviewer
OK, the hot poop, straight fro the centre of Basra, by the wonders of the internet...

There are further disturbances now, and more cas, but I can't say any more. The locals are indeed pissed off about lack of fuel, the hot weather, why they haven't got jobs instantly, etc., but I assure you we are doing our best. This neck of the woods was abandoned by Saddam after the GW1 and the revolt - the place is falling apart, and we can't replace 30 years of dis-investment overnight (Hmmm, I'm sounding like a Railtrack advert now....).

More and more like NI every day, but with more guns, much hotter weather, and even nastier clerics, if that's possible.

I'll keep you posted, as long as the internet stays up and running.

P.S. A large amount of the spec. reconstruction and assistance is being provided by T.A. using their Civvy skills - like the MArshall Plan, but on the cheap!
OldSnowy said:
P.S. A large amount of the spec. reconstruction and assistance is being provided by T.A. using their Civvy skills - like the MArshall Plan, but on the cheap!

When things have calmed down, please could you expand a bit more on your post script?



A few points spring to mind here.
They are only now able to riot without "disapearing" because Uncle sad man has been booted ***********, a few months ago they would have been topped for it.

It took years to sort Germany and Japan out after WW2 why are the press,etc so amazed that Iraq has not been sorted out in 5mins?

Good to see the positive contribution by the T.A. being given a mention.

Old Snowy,There are shed loads of us over here in the U.K. Rooting for all of you out there, obviously you have to be a bit carefull, but all info is keenly received,
especially as every thing the journo's pump out has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Best of luck to all of you. GFF :wink:

Good to hear from you, glad you and the guys are flying the flag with the locals.

Maybe one of our lurking journos would like to do a story,on how hard British Forces ARE working to rebuild a neglected and shattered infrastructure?
and everyone else that made this happen

Calm returned to Basra today as forces under British command delivered millions of gallons of fuel to gasoline stations and as electricity was restored to most parts of the city, Iraq's second largest, British military officials said.

In northern Iraq, a United States soldier with the Fourth Infantry Division was killed and two were wounded late Sunday by a homemade bomb, the United States Central Command said today. No other details were released.

In Basra, drivers were lining up at gasoline stations today after coalition forces brought in enough fuel to fill 550,000 cars, a supply that should last five days, the officials said.

Power cuts that officials said were brought on by looting of gasoline and sabotage of electricity lines prompted two days of riots in the city. Other factors behind the shortages include the dilapidated and obsolete condition of the refineries, officials said.

In the past two days residents lined up for several miles at gasoline stations and tried to cope with 122-degree temperatures and high humidity, a British official said today. Power stations had been running on standby generators.

The effort to keep the power stations going was continuing, a British spokeswoman in Basra, Squadron Leader Lynda Sawers of the Royal Air Force, said in a telephone interview.

The fuel shortages caused power failures at hospitals and harmed aid efforts, American officials have said.

The fuel arrived today by ship at the port of Az Zubayhr and road tankers that made their way to Basra were escorted by a convoy of British soldiers, Squadron Leader Sawers said.

In addition, a convoy of 25 road tankers was escorted by American soldiers from Kuwait, British officials said, and these are destined for towns and provinces throughout southeast Iraq.

Maj. Charlie Mayo, a British spokesman, said: "Coalition forces are determined to to everything we can to ensure oil reaches the power stations and that petrol reaches cars. We are also sending soldiers out to petrol stations to ensure that distribution takes place.

Major Mayo also said that coalition forces are stepping up efforts to provide security to power lines and to support local Iraqi contractors rebuilding the broken infrastructure.

The United Nations Joint Logistics Center said the shortage of liquefied petroleum gas, an important cooking fuel, was a "crisis" that was "almost certain to continue," even as officials hope that new imports and production from a plant in southern Iraq will increase supply. Gas canisters that normally cost 250 dinars have been fetching up to 4,000 dinars, or about $2.40.

Squadron Leader Sawers said that in an incident late Sunday not connected to the fuel protests, three empty road tankers escorted by military vehicles were fired on by assailants with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

A number of local people "put some obstacles in the road and set fire to the petrol on the road to stop or slow down the convoy," Squadron Leader Sawers said.

The fire was returned and two Iraqis were wounded, but she said it was not clear if they had been hurt by coalition forces or "by some other means."

Funny how the BBC haven't mentioned this at all. Still, this is excellent news.


Book Reviewer
OK, back on line, and time for a quick update. Firstly, for good reporting, watch Sky News - far more balanced than the BBC, which as usual only goes for the bad noews.

Secondly, it's much calmer here now - the youth are waving again, rather than chucking things. Still a few nasty incidents, but it's a big city, and there are weapons everywhere, and it's bloody hot, so I don't see that as being unusual. Not nice, but to be expected (Imagine London or Brum if everyone had an AK - or do they already?).

As to a bit more about what is going on here -

The reconstruction of Iraq is led by the CPA (check out their website, on ) which has the Country divvied up into sectors, based on the Provinces (like Counties). CPA South is Brit led, and covers four provinces. In there, there is a massive effort to bring back decent conditions for the locals. There are teams helping with water, power, fuel, education, irrigation, hospitals, you name it. Many countries are involved - including some you probably wouldn't think of - and all are working hard. However.... this region has not had any investment for 30 years, and it shows. Pumps and generators are knackered, hospitals ill-equipped, etc., and that's even before the looting. So. the West have their job cut out. Also, as the locals have nothing, they are sorely tempted to take everything/anything. For example, power supply would be easier if people didn't steal the cables to melt down for copper scrap (another point - good rumour is that a certain neighbouring country is buying this scrap at way above market value. Obviously, some people don't want to see the Iraqis helped, or at least don't want the West to be seen to be helping them...). Fuel is geting through, but local hoods tend to hijack the garage after a shipment arrives, steal it all, and sell it at inflated prices. Hence, loads of very hot squaddies guarding petrol stations, and not getting any thanks for it, I can tell you.

Back to the reconstruction. There is a lot of specialist skill required, from banking to policing to civil engineering. A Lot of this is done by the 'proper' people (coppers, especially) but lots isn't, and that's where the TA come in. Quite apart from the good work done by the CIMIC teams (largely TA), quite a few guys are being taken out of their TA trades, and used for their Civvy skills. This is how the Marshall Plan worked in Germany after the War, and it is going well here too. Humble beginnings, but I think most of us here are therefore doing a bit more for this God-forsaken country this way than by carrying out our mobilised roles.

I know it's not what I trained to do for all those Camps and weekends, but I do think I'm helping the poor devils here a bit, and they certainly need it. You never know, they may actually start mobilising people on this basis in future - but I wouldn't bet on it!

Sorry to go on!

P.S. Any mobilisation for Telic 3 on the cards?
Old Snowy

Thanks for the updates. Any news from our TA colleagues in the sandpit, is always good. Really proud of what you and the guys have achieved, flying the flag for the UK, British forces and of course, the TA.

I really believe, what you're doing , is providing a shining example of how the TA can be "re-roled" on peacekeeping deployments. Yes, we are soldiers first, but we all have civilian skills, we can bring to the party. If a guy is a skilled telecoms engineer, a Mechanic, a builder or whatever, even though he is trained as an Infantry soldier, then why not roll the sleeves up, and give him a busmans holiday?

Maybe MCM should start looking at what the Soldier's civilian occupation is, and deploy him in that role in this sort of situation? Just think , you'd get that person, doing a job he knows and enjoys, at a fraction of the cost, and you still get a trained soldier on the ground! And of course, he's still available for a bit of Sangar bashing or stagging on when needed..

CIMIC sounds interesting, anyone got point of contact?

Keep on building and flying the flag mate :)

We have it being published on part one orders for regulars nurses to volunteer from the cosy NHS trusts that they work in seeing as half of them complain about deploying, can not see the UAO's being inundated with personnel for that one. Am sure that the TA slots will be filled. Looking forward to OP TELIC four it will be a TA field hospital in situ.
More from Basra

In Basra, Worst May Be Ahead
As Southern Iraq Bakes, British Also Frustrated by Shortages
By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 12, 2003; Page A01

BASRA, Iraq, Aug. 11 -- Sabah Khairallah drove his rickety white Toyota Crown to a gas station in downtown Basra at 8 a.m. The line, two cars wide, already stretched a mile. Ten hours later, as dusk broke the summer heat, he was still waiting.

He had left shuttered his shop, which sold nets to fishermen plying the Shatt al Arab that flows through Basra. The night before, he recounted, he had spent another sleepless night in a sweltering apartment without electricity, buffeted by a humid wind blowing off the Persian Gulf. At one point, in desperation, he started his car, turned on its air conditioner and put his son inside to sleep.

One month, said the gaunt, unshaven and angry Khairallah. That's how long he gave the British forces occupying Basra to bring electricity, water and fuel. After that, more riots would ensue. "But not with rocks," he said, nodding his head. "With guns."

An uneasy calm returned to Basra today after two days of unrest -- some of the worst in Iraq since U.S.-led forces overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein on April 9. But no one in this weary southern city -- neither the British officials blamed for its plight, nor residents whose mounting frustration mirrors the spiraling temperatures -- seemed to think that the worst was behind them.

In interviews, residents of Iraq's second-largest city almost uniformly expressed anger and incredulity at the shortages of gasoline and electricity and the skyrocketing black-market prices that have accompanied them. British officials in Basra, openly frustrated themselves, questioned the priorities of the U.S.-led reconstruction. And many feared that remnants of Hussein's government or militant Shiite Muslim groups were prepared to capitalize on the disenchantment.

"There's no question in my mind that people's expectations were raised very high and they felt we had led them to expect dramatic improvements when Saddam was toppled," said Iain Pickard, a spokesman for the British-led occupation in Basra. "We've not managed to meet those expectations. Until we got here, we didn't appreciate the scale of the task."

Over the weekend, hundreds of people flooded into Basra's streets, taking British soldiers by surprise. Gangs of youths, some shirtless, barricaded roads with burning tires and threw rocks and chunks of concrete at the troops and vehicles thought to be owned by aid organizations and foreigners, in particular Kuwaitis, who are resented for their wealth and widely believed on the streets here to be smuggling oil out of the country.

British troops wearing riot gear fired shots into the air to disperse crowds. Two people were killed Sunday, witnesses and officials said, but some residents said the toll was higher.

British forces began releasing their own fuel reserves to alleviate the shortages, said Maj. Garry Pinchen, a spokesman. Troops today escorted fuel shipments to the city's 10 gas stations, where soldiers rationed gasoline at 25 liters (about 6 1/2 gallons) per car. After long droughts of electricity, power was restored to three hours on, three hours off.

"We have to solve one problem at a time," Pinchen said.

In a country devastated by war, more than a decade of sanctions and years of often willful neglect, Basra's problems are especially acute. British officials blame the loss of electricity -- at one point it was available 20 hours a day -- on looting, an increase in demand because of the hot weather and a breakdown in one of two major power stations. That, in turn, has slowed oil refining and delivery of fuel to gas stations. Backup generators are old and inefficient. Smuggling of fuel has made matters worse, they said.

The oil pipeline from Basra to Nasriyah was recently sabotaged, and silt has blocked half the main canal that brings drinking water to Basra. That has intensified residents' complaints that water, when available, is salty.

Pickard acknowledged that there was "an understandable degree of frustration" and complained that British officials' priorities in Basra -- power, water and fuel -- are not shared to the same degree by U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

"It seems so bureaucratic. It's so difficult to get things going," he said from a building that had been looted of everything but its windows before the British moved in. "We have not had a great deal of say. We don't feel we've been able to influence the reconstruction program."

He pointed to a U.S.-funded project to renovate 200 schools in the region. While admirable, Pickard said, "painting schools isn't going to stop people from rioting."

But U.S. officials in Baghdad say that restoring basic public services -- particularly electricity, water and fuel -- remains a top priority of the reconstruction effort. They said they have been importing large quantities of fuel from neighboring countries to compensate for reduced output at Iraqi refineries and are bringing in generators for hospitals, water treatment plants and oil facilities.

But like the British in Basra, the officials said their efforts have been plagued by continued sabotage and looting of Iraq's power and oil infrastructure.

At the Canary Restaurant, where customers lunched on chicken and the dates for which Basra is famous, owner Ali Fahd expressed sentiments heard often in the Shiite Muslim city. Residents welcomed the end of Hussein's repression, which was especially fierce in the south after the 1991 uprising that he crushed. For weeks after his overthrow, the city remained peaceful and patient, he said. But now conditions are, if anything, worse. The only thing plentiful, he said, are imported cans of Pepsi-Cola stacked in pyramids along the streets.

"People have waited all this time and they've found nothing. Nothing has gotten better," he said. Asked whether it wuld, Fahd paused, wiped his sweaty brow and said, finally: "I swear to God, I don't think it will improve."

Along Basra's Kuwait Street, the main commercial thoroughfare, Yassin Faris sat at a desk whose metal trim was almost too hot to touch. When the bombs fell and British troops besieged the city in March, he said, his was a voice of patience.

"I was always defending the Americans and the British. 'You should wait, you should be patient.' But it's slow, it's very slow," he said. When his two sons and three daughters complain now, he said, he has little to say.

In the middle-class neighborhood of Jamaiat, electricity had returned to the house of Alaa Qassem this afternoon. It had been a difficult week, she said. Her neighbor next door, Aseel, had told her how she had taken her sick mother to the roof every time the electricity went out, along with bedding and pillows. The night before, she made three trips.

Her neighbor across the street, Maysun, was eight months pregnant and had a small son. In a fit of desperation, she had tried to sell her jewelry and television set, hoping to move to a $20-a-night hotel until she gave birth. She was unable to raise the money, Qassem said, and instead put her son in a water-filled bathtub to cool off and spent the day crying.

"I said to her, 'God help you,' " Qassem recalled. "I cannot do anything for you."

Qassem said she had no nostalgia for Hussein's government. Her 18-year-old brother, Qusay, was executed in 1980 on suspicion of subversion, she said. Word of his demise came in a death certificate delivered to the family in 1983. Her father had fled to Iran.

With her $250-a-month salary from a Norwegian aid group, she now supports a brother, his wife and their two children. But prices have spiraled. A cylinder of butane that once cost 30 cents now goes for $4. The cost of a block of ice -- often the only means of refrigeration -- has jumped 16-fold to about $5.

"It's a filthy life. We cannot do anything. We can only complain to God," she said. "When the war happened, we dreamed of a different life. Today, I don't have any more dreams. Just dreams of electricity and water."

A few minutes later, the electricity went out again in their house. The air conditioner went silent. The ceiling fan swung slowly to a halt. And the room was left lit only by the glow of a setting sun.

Her sister-in-law Wasen smiled wryly. "The generosity has ended," she said.

Correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran in Baghdad contributed to this report.
Strong words from Iain Pickard , I hope he hasn't dropped himself in the doodoo for telling it as he sees it..... :([

Mr Happy

They're not that strong, I'm getting:

Greetings from Basrah,

The last 48 hours have definetly been exciting.

Basically we are pretty close to losing it with the civil population. This is mostly caused by widespread fuel shortages and electricity cuts (equals no water as well, as you need electricity to pump water). This is caused by a combination of unrealistic expectations that the coalition would fix everything straight away, 30 years of neglect on the infrastructure front, war damage, looting and sabotage. Added to disgustingly hot humid weather and you have a recipe for a city that is cooking off.

Yesterday we had widespread riots in the City. At our location in (DELETED) we are colocated with (DELETED), who are responsible for (DELETED). Yesterday (DELETED) guys pulling 18 hour duties. Some of the guys in the riots were on the "Base Lines " = riot squads for 4 or 5 hours in temps over 45* C.

At one stage when the rioters got to the (DELETED) front gate all the uniformed staff in our building were formed up into 2 extra sections to reinforce (DELETED) Coy and stood outside the gate in full kit (shields and sticks) to a hail of bricks and burning tyres for a couple of hours. At one stage we had 2 x majors, 2 Sgt Majors and allied troops on the line. Visions of the film Zulu were appropriate.

Today was a bit quiter but still lots of trouble. We have had a complete ban on on movement for most of the last 2 days.

The combination of all the security problems and the ban on movement makes sorting the problems very difficult, as the staff in CPA who need to be dealing with the local ministries can't get out.

We have run out of beer in the building.

There isn't really any good news.
I've done my best with the OPSEC, if anyone can spot a hole PM me and I'll correct tout suite.
Just a quick mention

Whilst it's good to get frustration off your chest, if you want to post excerpts from mates kebabside, then do, as Mr. Happy has done.

Censor the details that might be useful to a journalist!

Censor the details that would identify your correspondent. In this current atmosphere, speaking your mind, will definitely have a detrimental effect on your career progression...
F*ck off Happy, you can't pull the wool over my eyes, Elvis is right here beside me, talking to Marilyn Monroe and JFK.

They're all very boring actually.


Book Reviewer
The B*stards are at it again - this time, a truly apalling incident. Watch out for breaking news. Troops NOT impressed. This place is getting very dodgy indeed, and we may not have the troops - or the will - to win this one.

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