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14. Oct 2006

Britisk general: Udenlandske tropper i Irak gør det hele værre

Som vi læser i dagens Guardian, mener den britiske general Sir Richard Dannett nu, at britiske og andre udenlandske tropper i Irak blot er med til at gøre det hele værre - og bør forlade landet snarest muligt:
As the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglians prepared to set out on patrol through central Basra yesterday, risking mortar attack and possibly more, all the talk was of their boss's suggestion that they were making the situation worse.

General Sir Richard Dannatt's comments that the British military presence in southern Iraq "exacerbates the security problems" and that they should get out "sometime soon" was met with a mix of frustration and quiet agreement in the heavily fortified Palace compound, a former Saddam palace in southern Basra that now houses the consulate as well as 1,200 coalition troops.
The extent of the deterioration of the security situation in the south of Iraq, however, is unmistakable. Eighteen months ago, when I was last embedded in Basra, the British army still patrolled in berets and without flak jackets. Today they will only emerge in heavily armoured Warrior vehicles, wearing heavy-duty helmets with protective screens across their faces, and body armour to cover their shoulders and upper arms.

Where the army once was able to patrol around the city relatively freely, they now know there are certain parts of it where they will be vulnerable to attack. Patrols often involve a visit close to a Sunni mosque, just to reassure worshippers that the forces are there.

Part of the difficulty is identifying the enemy. Basra has become riddled with organised gangs, militias and death squads, and its police force is corrupt. According to senior coalition advisers, there are around 20 different security and police groups in the city, ranging from the directorate of education police to the justice police; the governor alone has 200 armed gunmen protecting him. Some of the police units are active in organised crime and have been infiltrated by militias, others work as death squads. There are also around a dozen religious militias.

"We are in a tribal society in Basra and we [the British army] are in effect one of these tribes," said Lt Col Simon Brown, commander of the 2nd Battalion. "As long as we are here the others will attack us because we are the most influential tribe. We cramp their style."

He can see the general's point. "There is so much poverty and frustration in the streets of Basra, as long as you are in the street, someone will shoot at you. We complicate the situation. We give the disaffected and frustrated a chance to empty their frustrations by shooting at us."
I mellemtiden står den danske regering fast på miséren - forsvarsminister Søren Gade har sågar lige været i Irak og sværge ubetinget troskabsed til USA. Hvor meget mere er det snart muligt at skamme sig over at være dansker ...?