Guido takes no pleasure in reporting this, but it seems to be going unsaid in the British press. British forces are painted, particularly by broadcasters, as having achieved a measure of success in Basra due to superior British peace-keeping techniques honed in Northern Ireland.
The truth is very different. To quote from a report by the ICG;
Three major Shiite political groups are locked in a bloody conflict that has left the city in the hands of militias and criminal gangs, whose control extends to municipal offices and neighbourhood streets. The city is plagued by “the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores, together with the rise of criminal mafias that increasingly intermingle with political actors,” a recent report by the International Crisis Group said.
The Washington Post reported a senior U.S. intelligence official yesterday saying that “The British have basically been defeated in the south”.
The article went on to say that British forces
… are abandoning their former headquarters at Basra Palace, where a recent official visitor from London described them as “surrounded like cowboys and Indians” by militia fighters. An airport base outside the city, where a regional U.S. Embassy office and Britain’s remaining 5,500 troops are barricaded behind building-high sandbags, has been attacked with mortars or rockets nearly 600 times over the past four months.
In May Blair visited the Basra HQ and came under mortar attack – not a sign of pacification.
The head of the armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, told the BBC that success depends “upon what your interpretation of the mission was in the first place… I’m afraid people had, in many instances, unrealistic aspirations for Iraq, and for the south of Iraq.” The reality is that once British forces exit Basra the fighting will escalate into a full-scale civil war. Mission failure.
This begs the question – what now is the plan in Afghanistan? They are a people who fought the Red Army and won. The Soviets were brutal and were still defeated. Is NATO going to match and exceed that brutality in pursuit of “victory”? Afghanistan should be monitored closely and elements that present a clear and present external danger should be eliminated. It is not the job of NATO to impose Western values by force as Rome’s Imperial Armies once imposed Roman law.