Britain Leaves Basra But Basra Has Problems

British troops have occupied the Basra area since early stages of thee Iraq war. They now have handed over control of the city to local Iraqi forces without receiving much thanks from those who now are responsible for controlling the city. The new police commander, General Jalil Khalaf bitterly complained the British occupation and departure left him with a situation close to mayhem. “They left me militia, they left me gangsters, and they left me all the troubles in the world.” The British government insists the turnover was timely and appropriate, but that is apparently not the view of Iraqi leaders. British General Graham Binns, claimed the situation was OK, and “I came to rid Basra of its enemies and I now formally hand Basra back to its friends.”

His “friend,” Khalaf, has a different version of the situation. During the past three months, 45 women have been killed for being “immoral” due to lacking the correct hair covering. Shia militia are better armed than the police force. His main problem is now recovering control of the town from the militia which was armed by the British. Khalaf believes the British meant well, but their actions only increased violence by allowing extremist groups to gain access to arms and not sufficiently providing sufficient arms and equipment to the police. He showed reporters a list of 48 women who were killed because they had been in an adulterous relationship. Even as he spoke, violence continued in what was supposedly peaceful Basra.