Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Stay on Target

More details have emerged about what happened in Basra on Monday. It seems that elements of the local Iraqi police forces handed the two British prisoners over to Muqtada al-Sadr's militia. This led UK troops to conduct a rescue operation which led to some accidental damage to the prison compound.

The forces which the UK government is relying on to replace UK troops have been infiltrated by insurgents. This was confirmed by Iraq's national security advisor, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie in an interview with Newsnight (Tuesday's programme, about 8 mins in).
Iraqi security forces... in many parts of Iraq... have been penetrated by some of the insurgents, some of the terrorists... I can't deny this.
Dr al-Rubaie is not able provide any indication as to the extent of this problem.

The government has responded with yet more talk of the importance of staying the course but what course are we supposed to be steering? If the Iraqi security forces are compromised, is this not the final nail in the coffin of the coalitions "exit strategy"?

Now we're being told that UK troops will have to stay in Iraq for at least another year. You'll forgive me if I'm not impressed, it's just that I seem to remember having heard that before. How long do you have to stay the course before you realise you've taken a long turn?

Smoke and Mirrors?
This is pure speculation but isn't it odd that this news should be released the day after yet another farcical episode for UK policy in Iraq? It is great stuff for the front pages of tomorrow's newspapers. I can't see that any of it is particularly time sensitive. Ten weeks after the bombing I think it's reasonable to assume that the police have known about the dummy run for quite some time. They found the train ticket stubs in the flat they raided after all. And we've seen the photos of the nail bombs before.

I presume this "new" material was announced at a police press conference. As I say, I'm out on a limb here. The press conference might have already been organised before the events in Basra occurred. If it was only arranged today though, that would be quite a "coincidence". If anyone does know when it was organised, I'd be most grateful if they could let me know.

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