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  • Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Britain-Not winning hearts and minds in Basra

    Readers may remember how British soldiers were arrested last year for planting bombs, while posing as Arabs, and shooting at police:

    Iraqi police had arrested the Britons on Monday for allegedly shooting at police and planting explosive devices. British troops then broke the men out of jail by ramming an armored vehicle through a wall. In response, Basra residents and police revolted, attacking British forces in the area.

    More recently, of course, we have had the news of thugs beating up young Iraqis, while their corporal cheers them on.

    All these incidents, of course, don't help in the "battle to win hearts and minds". And, therefore, it's hardly surprising that Basra has decided to cut off relations with the British there, as this piece from the Guardian reports:

    Nadhim al-Jabiri, a Basra council official, said the suspension of ties included ending cooperation with the British consulate in Basra. The police chief, Major-General Hassan Suwadi, said Iraqi security forces would cease joint patrols with British forces in the entire region.

    A British military spokesman, Captain James St John-Price, said that such decisions "merely work to the detriment of the people of Basra". It was unclear whether economic ties were also being suspended, he added.

    Perhaps the people of Basra would rather not have relations with people known to have attempted to committed terrorist actions, and people who have such disregard for the law.
    See all recent "A Logical Voice" posts


    At 2/14/2006 06:48:00 pm, Blogger Harry Monk said...

    But it's not a huge surprise, is it? Hyped-up young men fighting an enemy they rarely see chase down a group of kids throwing stones and beat the crap out of them. Not exactly headline news for anyone who's spent time in Northern Ireland over the last 20 years.

    Nor did it make headlines in Serbia, where NATO forces regularly issued stick beatings in a similar style.

    Having friends who've served in the Basra area, I know several who are now deeply concerned at how two year old footage will affect those still serving there. One friend in particular went to great lengths to rebuild relations with the local tribal elders and council members while he was in charge of school and hospital reconstruction. He won't be pleaed to see the headlines, but I know he won't be surprised, either.

    Rotten apples losing control of their tempers and damaging relations built up over many months. Idiotic, and the Ministry of Defence will eventually weed them all out, but it doesn't help anyone still over there.

    While I don't think the footage should have been covered up at all, what gives the News of the World, a Sunday tabloid more used to breaking stories about celeb coke scandals and vicar outrages the moral high ground to break a story like this?

    Given this footage is two years' old, do we expect more to come? I don't, given the trouble American forces got into over their PoW antics. But we may see a summary ban on camera cell phones and DV cameras for troops in the future.

    At 2/14/2006 11:16:00 pm, Blogger DJEB said...

    If your friends are concerned, they best ought to do what they can to see that it doesn't happen again.

    I am also a little concerned about your desire to see anything bad about your boys suppressed. I don't care if the truth is ugly, I want it out.

    At 2/15/2006 09:08:00 am, Blogger Truth Seeker said...

    Harry, from the tone of your comment, one would presume that these types of beatings, carried out by British soldiers, are regular occurances.

    If that really is the case, then I don't really care which newspaper breaks the news about these unlawful acts. Someone needs to tell the truth, and we obviously need to know about ALL similar incidents.

    Those responsible must be prosecuted, and any further abuses must be prosecuted fully.

    At 2/15/2006 09:43:00 pm, Blogger Harry Monk said...

    It's easy to simply be judgemental, isn't it? Hindsight is always 20/20.

    What I was trying to say, in a rather hamfisted way, is that I can fully understand exactly why those soldiers chased down the teenagers and beat them. Am I condoning it? No. If either of you read that into my comment then hey, you're dead wrong.

    I in no way condone violence against anyone, particularly in this scenario. But how about some background, eh?

    The rules of engagement after a war has officially ended mean that any UK troops cannot fire at a known enemy until fired upon. This is why two of my friends had to drive past a man armed with an RPG in full sight of passersby, unable to do much other than speed up, until he fired his weapon. And then, because he'd already fired it, the only thing they could do was arrest him. Once they'd crawled out of the wreckage of their Land Rover and tried unsuccessfully to find him. Luckily, their injuries were relatively minor.

    Djeb, did you actually read my comment? As I stated, I don't think this footage should have been covered up. I merely questioned the forum it was aired in. If you knew the 'newspaper' in question, you'd understand.

    What does deeply concern me is that the actions of a few uncontrolled soldiers may now affect the troops still there, the vast majority of whom are stuck somewhere they don't want to be, doing a job they don't want to do for a government they don't believe in.

    I'm actually quite insulted that anyone dare suggest that I support the suppression of truth, particularly when it comes to human rights' violations.

    At 2/15/2006 11:21:00 pm, Blogger DJEB said...

    Thank you for the clarification, Harry. I offer my apologies.

    I understand the News of the World is a news-N-girlz paper. I would figure they brokoe it because they were given the tape. Am I wrong?

    At 2/15/2006 11:42:00 pm, Blogger Harry Monk said...

    I imagine the tape was touted around London/Canary Wharf (where the Press now live) and sold to the highest bidder.

    It is, however, atypical of a paper nick-named The News of the Screws to break a story of such importance. I think that's one of the things that annoys me the most; a sensationalist rag 'investigating' a genuine story. The whole idea fills me with dread.

    Now that the MoD are making arrests, we should see swift action, and I have no doubt that every single officer serving over there is under strict instructions to drum into his troops the importance of treating the local population with the respect and courtesy they deserve.

    Knowing several people who have served there with distinction (one of whom was featured on NBC as a result of his rapport with the locals), it sickens me to see this type of thing happen. I apologise if I vented in my last post, but I wanted to make absolutely sure that you understood that I didn't condone that kind of behaviour at all.

    Keep up the good work, guys.

    At 2/16/2006 12:18:00 am, Blogger DJEB said...

    No worries. You were keeping me in line.

    At 2/16/2006 09:06:00 am, Blogger Truth Seeker said...

    Harry, I didn't think you were condoning the violence, I was merely trying to say that it seems this is not the first occurance of
    this kind.


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