Sunday, September 25, 2005

The beginning of the end in Basra

The arrogant raid by British forces to free two captured soldiers seems to have marked the beginning of the end for the occupation in Basra. At home, the sight of British forces fighting their own allies has caused political support for the war, never high to begin with, to plumment even further. In Iraq, it has been a disaster. Basra's governor has withdrawn all cooperation with British troops - turning them overnight into an occupying army. And now, an Iraqi judge has issued arrest warrants for the two soldiers on charges of murder.

The British are incredulous - they have a Status Of Forces Agreement which grants British troops immunity from Iraqi law. But that agreement was extracted from the puppet government established by the Americans after the regime's fall, and so fundamentally lacks legitimacy. Iraqis simply have no reason to respect it, and the British attempting to hide behind it will just increase the anger at their actions. I don't for a moment think the soldiers will be prosecuted in an Iraqi court - the British will simply spirit them out of the country to prevent that happening - but now they are on notice. Next time their troops kill civilians, there will be another arrest warrant - and another, and another. And eventually, they'll be facing their nightmare - ten thousand Iraqis outside their base, screaming for someone to be handed over to face justice. And at that stage, they'll be faced with the stark choice of either perpetrating a massacre, or going home.

Unlike the Americans, the British have always recognised that their presence depends on local goodwill. Thanks to last weeks' actions, that goodwill is now gone - and so it is only a matter of time before the British are gone too.


I'm not convinced that the Iraqis are totally innocent here. These kind of situations are never fully clear cut.

I don't think that the British Army could have left their men in prison, and nor should the Iraqis have detained them. They should have been handed over to face British judgement.

And as for wanting them back for interrogation that's just political posturing.

But I do agree with you, it's time for the British and US and sundry others to bail out. Of course Iraq will descend into civil war, and the Islamisists will gain control and the whole place will fall into ruin like Afganistan.

Posted by Muerk : 9/25/2005 12:31:00 PM

Seems like the right get pushed into backing the on going activities in Iraq in order to avoid being chastised and giving political mileage to the far left. That and they find the far left seems to mix insults to them with anti war rhetoric and thus turn them off it.

Posted by Genius : 9/25/2005 05:39:00 PM