Defeat in Iraq?
The following is a story off the wires from a news service in India. Upon reading it, my question is this:
If the American Intelligence community believes that the British have been defeated in Basra (Al Basrah on the map above), what must they think has happened in Baghdad, where violence is so much worse? And why isn’t THAT being reported?
London, Aug.8 (ANI): American intelligence officials believe that British forces have been defeated in Basra.
According to The Telegraph and the Washington Post, British commanders had reportedly allowed militias loyal to three Shia Muslim groups to take control of the city. ntelligence officials were quoted as saying that about 500 British troops based at the Basra Palace have been “surrounded like cowboys and Indians”.
Basra is one of four provinces handed over to British control after of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Three of the four provinces have been pacified and handed back to local leaders; Basra, the most populous, is due to be returned by the year end.
Both papers quoted Major Mike Shearer, a spokesman for the British command in Basra, as saying that the suggestion that UK troop levels in the province (5,500), had been cut too fast, was not true.
“This is not Dorset, but Basra’s crime levels are half the level of Washington,” he said.
A second British official in Basra, while admitting that violence has increased in the city, said the American criticism was misplaced.
Gordon Brown told George W Bush at their meeting at Camp David last week that British troops planned to hand over responsibility for Basra to local leaders within months, but that the decision was in the hands of British commanders.
Britain’s former governor of Basra, Sir Hilary Synnott, said the US criticism was payback for British claims two years ago that Basra was a success while Washington had failed in Baghdad.
A think-tank report has said the legacy of British rule in Basra was “the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighbourhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores, together with the rise of criminal mafias”.
A spokesman for the British embassy in Washington said yesterday that the Washington Post report did not reflect America’s official position on British force levels.
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