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Resistance in Basra?!

Abdel Wahab Badrakhan, Al-Hayat

May 8, 2006

Gunning down a British helicopter in Basra may be a sign that resistance against British occupation forces in the city has started, and that it will continue until the last soldier has been withdrawn. Indeed, the statement signed by the 'Sons of Struggling Basra' is not credible enough to confirm an eruption of such resistance. However, it is a loud and clear warning for Tony Blair and his government.

Blair need not have another five dead bodies to have a black weekend. The past week was the most dangerous in his period in office. The failure of the Labour Party in local elections has raised all domestic and foreign issues, and typically, his war in Iraq was re-used as a dagger to stab his image and career over and over.

The Prime Minister, who has deservedly been referred to as the 'butcher' by the London press following the recent cabinet reshuffle, received a strong blow with the British death toll in Basra; especially seeing as he had punished his foreign minister for being openly opposed to military action against Iran, whereas Blair had wanted to keep all options open.

Britain was supposed to withdraw one tenth of its troops stationed in Iraq this month, but it is now unclear whether the step will be delayed or carried out as scheduled. It is confirmed, however, that the helicopter incident starts a fresh page between the British troops and Basra, and, consequently, the whole area under their control.

Several reports by British officers had warned of the dangerous situation in the city, but the good communication on ground with commanders in Baghdad always secured truce and cooperation. This time there was no clear reason or justification for bringing down the helicopter. It was therefore a premeditated and deliberate act which means that hostile sentiment has been forming in the city. The attack cannot be the work of extreme Shiite militias. It is very likely that the body which attacked the British may even be new to the militias who have been operative in Basra and its surrounding neighborhoods.

The British command in Iraq was very much aware of change in the southern region to which it had repeatedly referred. The formation of the new Iraqi government, hopefully expected within the next few days, will bring about new obligations. The new government is not likely, at least on the short-term, to take charge of the region outside the Green Zone. This means that the militias are going to proceed to the next phase of their plans of ethnic cleansing, and continue laying foundations for federalization. Conversely, the security atmosphere in the region will enter a new stage to suit the tension created by the US-Iranian nuclear standoff. Perhaps the British will take the Iranian role into consideration, while analyzing the message behind the shooting down of their helicopter.

At a time when official statements in Washington and London emphasized the importance of resolving the government crisis in Iraq as a further triumph in the war, the war of 'body count' has devalued this triumph.

The political process is supposedly a peaceful campaign, in which all Iraqis should be involved, in the hope that it would bring them national peace and stability. The Basra incident does not seem to be a coincidence, but in fact prepares for a confrontation such as the one we have witnessed, which is of no relation to Iran.

:: Article nr. 23165 sent on 09-may-2006 06:33 ECT


Link: english.daralhayat.com/opinion/OPED/05-2006/Article-20060508-146cb8f9-c0a8-10ed-

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