April 22, 2004

The bombings in Basra.

Over at our other blog, Magpie, we posted on Sunday about an article in the UK Telegraph in which senior officers in the UK military's expressed concern about an uprising in Basra:

[The] commander of British troops in southern Iraq, Brig Nick Carter, admitted that he would be powerless to prevent the overthrow of Coalition forces if the Shia majority in Basra rose up in rebellion. Brig Carter, of the 20 Armoured Brigade, who has been in Iraq for four months, said British forces would stay in Basra with the consent of local Shia leaders, or not at all. [...]

During an interview in Basra last week Brig Carter acknowledged that the Coalition's presence in southern Iraq was entirely dependent on the goodwill of the local Shia Muslim leader, Sayid Ali al-Safi al-Musawi. He represents Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's leading Shia cleric. "The moment that Sayid Ali says, 'We don't want the Coalition here', we might as well go home," Brig Carter said.

The Telegraph article looks especially prescient today after the suicide bombings in Basra, in which 68 people were killed and hundreds injured. Added to the problems at Fallujah and Najaf, the escalation of violence in the Shia south of Iraq is not good news for the US and UK occupiers. (And when the bombings today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are added to the mix, we could be seeing a widening problem of violence in the region.)

The Economist looks at the effects that the Basra bombings might have:

[They bring danger closer to the British, who have seen far less violence than the Americans in central Iraq. But Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, has already announced that he sees no need to add troops to Britainís deployment of 7,500 in Iraq despite the bombings. The attacks will also anger yet more ordinary Iraqis. The choice of police stations as targets may have been designed to send a message: that the nascent Iraqi security forces cannot control the country. This point becomes more urgent as the June 30th deadline for the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis approaches. Mr Blair and President George Bush have refused to postpone this deadline.

Posted by Magpie at April 22, 2004 02:04 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |