British Withdrawal Followup

From the Independent, the British have experienced "military failure" in Iraq:

The partial British military withdrawal from southern Iraq announced by Tony Blair this week follows political and military failure, and is not because of any improvement in local security, say specialists on Iraq.

In a comment entitled "The British Defeat in Iraq" the pre-eminent American analyst on Iraq, Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, asserts that British forces lost control of the situation in and around Basra by the second half of 2005.

Mr Cordesman says that while the British won some tactical clashes in Basra and Maysan province in 2004, that "did not stop Islamists from taking more local political power and controlling security at the neighbourhood level when British troops were not present". As a result, southern Iraq has, in effect, long been under the control of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) and the so-called "Sadrist" factions.

Mr Blair said for three years Britain had worked to create, train and equip Iraqi Security Forces capable of taking on the security of the country themselves. But Mr Cordesman concludes: "The Iraqi forces that Britain helped create in the area were little more than an extension of Shia Islamist control by other means."

This speaks to one of the most confusing aspects of support for the War in Iraq: even under the best scenario we were still handing significant resources, training, and control to people that were considered nominal enemies before Bush's push for democratization of the Arab world. In this case, the training of "security forces" only worsens the security situation by empowering exactly the people we are trying to fight. There is a reason America has propped up vile dictators - even Saddam himself:

As for the conclusion of this report, that the British had militarily failed in Iraq, that conclusion could easily be drawn by the mere fact of their withdrawal rather than redeployment to Baghdad.

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