NEWS & ANALYSIS: British PM: “We have managed now to get Iraq into a far better position” (– behind us)

British pullout stokes Iraq’s southern fire

When then-US secretary of state James Baker suspended talks with the Palestinian Liberation Organization on June 20, 1990, he famously said, “Our telephone number is 202-456-1414. When you are serious about peace, call us.”

This is what British Prime Minister Gordon Brown should have said to Iraqi leaders while visiting southern Iraq last week. After all, thanks to the indifference of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and a completely paralyzed central government in Baghdad, the British-controlled city of Basra has become a hotbed for militants and Islamic fundamentalists.

Instead, Brown chose to speak to his own countrymen – downplaying unquestionable failure in Iraq – saying, “Your war is over. We have managed now to get Iraq into a far better position.” Brown’s statement was far more realistic than the 2003 speech of President George W Bush, in which he said, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.”

Brown did not say, however, that the British had succeeded. He literally could not say that because it would have been factually incorrect – very incorrect. He also did not say, however, that they had failed. British troops will remain in Basra, he claimed, training and assisting Iraqi authorities, until the spring of 2008. Their military role is over, however, as of mid-December. [complete article]

Triple car bombs hit south Iraq

Three car bombs have exploded in the southern Iraqi city of Amara, killing at least 39 people and injuring more than 100, police say.

Two bombs exploded in a car park packed with labourers waiting to travel to work, and a third detonated as people gathered to inspect the damage. [complete article]

Iraq rejects permanent U.S. bases: adviser

Iraq will never allow the United States to have permanent military bases on its soil, the government’s national security adviser said, calling the issue a “red line” that cannot be crossed.

“We need the United States in our war against terrorism, we need them to guard our border sometimes, we need them for economic support and we need them for diplomatic and political support,” Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said.

“But I say one thing, permanent forces or bases in Iraq for any foreign forces is a red line that cannot be accepted by any nationalist Iraqi,” he told Dubai-based al Arabiya television. [complete article]

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