Monday, October 30, 2006

Remember the tales of soft berrets in Basra?

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is moving most civilian staff from its consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra to the airport because the threat of mortar and rocket attacks has increased, the Foreign Office said on Monday.

"Given the threat to the safety of civilian staff, we have decided temporarily to reduce the number of staff at our compound, including by relocating some to Basra airport," Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said.

Britain has 7,200 troops in southern Iraq, mostly stationed in and around Basra. But the city remains dangerous with Shi'ite factions battling each other for control, and British troops occasionally caught in the middle.

Beckett said that the decision to move staff in Basra did not in anyway undermine Britain's commitment to Iraq.

"We will stay in Iraq until the job is done. We have adapted because we remain committed to the people of Basra and the elected Iraqi government," she said.

Beckett said the Consul General, the senior representative from the Department for International Development and a small team would stay put and that the decision to move other staff was not "irreversible".

"It is an operational decision and we fully respect operational decisions. What it does not mean in any way is a weakening of our resolve to do the job," said Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman.

1 comment:

William said...

Fascinating Davis. Is this the beginning of the end?

The USA is building two new runways at Arbil and one in Dohuk - immense runways big enough to take B52s - or the modern equivalent - no not the drink, the aeroplane.

Dohuk and Arbil are towns in Kurdistan (the country they used to call part of Iraq) - so I guess that's our route out.

When will Green Zone Baghdad fall to the insurgents? Probably in December 2007 at the time of the referendum on the future of Kirkuk. The Kurds will win and the Saderists will go ballistic and wreak their revenge. But why, I hear you ask, can't we fix the result of the Kirkuk referendum the way we rigged the Ninevah vote in the referendum on the constitution? We could of course and we may even try but if we succeed perhaps it'll be the Kurds who march on Baghdad - and we'll not only lose Baghdad, we'll lose our potential military bases in Kurdistan.

Iraq is already split into five parts anyway: Kurdistan, Hakim-controlled Shiite areas, Sadr-controllled Shiite areas, areas under Green Zone puppet government control, and the fragmented region known as the Sunni triangle.

There are ways to salvage the situation. The Baker Plan is one (bringing in Syria/Iran). Another is to re-take Baghdad - but that involves sacking the Baghdad police force (now completely insurgent controlled) but we don't have the balls for that.

So farewell pax Americana. We will retreat to isolationism. Let Iraq burn. It is, perhaps, inevitable now.