Over the course of the past 2 years most of the criticism of the Iraq war has been focused squarely at US forces and the US Administration.
However, the 2nd largest member of the “Coalition” (and the only one remaining in any significant number) were the British. They took control of the Southern section of Iraq which included the city of Basra.
The Brits *seemed* to have gotten the easy job… whether their methods and experience (which are closer to peacekeeping than war making) have contributed to the relative peace in the South, or whether it’s a function of a different attitude toward the occupation by the Shia majority is unclear… but what is clear is that British combat deaths have been far lower (96 vs. 1899 US fatalities) and that in general, the South has been far more peaceful than Central Iraq and even Kurdish areas in the North.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon may be over.
Yes, that’s a UK soldier… on fire. No, I don’t know if he was alright… I hope he was… but who knows…
Why is he on fire? Because he and his compatriots confronted a group of protesters as the UK forces tried to free two UK military officers who had been arrested by Iraqi Police and detained in the central Basra jail. UK forces broke down the prison walls to “rescue” their personel. This resulted in the reported escape of 150 other prisoners.
Do you, like me, assume that Iraqi Police and Coalition forces should be working together?
Logic would dictate that UK forces should not be bulldozing prison walls contrary to the very authority to whom the Brits will be leaving the authority of Basra.
Apparently that assumption is false… and has been for awhile:
At a recent military briefing in Basra, an AFP correspondent was told British soldiers had been ordered not to stop at Iraqi police checkpoints because of fear that rebels could be posing as Iraqi police.
If the UK is looking to get out of Iraq. This is probably not how they’d like to do it.
More on that later.