UK has left behind murder and chaos, says Basra police chief
The full scale of the chaos left behind by British forces in Basra was revealed yesterday as the city’s police chief described a province in the grip of well-armed militias strong enough to overpower security forces and brutal enough to behead women considered not sufficiently Islamic.
As British forces finally handed over security in Basra province, marking the end of 4½ years of control in southern Iraq, Major General Jalil Khalaf, the new police commander, said the occupation had 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,” he said in an interview for Guardian Films and ITV.
Khalaf painted a very different picture from that of British officials who, while acknowledging problems in southern Iraq, said yesterday’s handover at Basra airbase was timely and appropriate. [complete article]
U.S. to keep most troops in Baghdad
In a change of plans, American commanders in Iraq have decided to keep their forces concentrated in Baghdad when the buildup strategy ends next year, removing troops instead from outlying areas of the country.
The change represents the military’s first attempt to confront its big challenge in 2008: how to cut the number of troops without sacrificing security.
The shift in deployment strategy, described by senior U.S. military officials in Iraq and Washington, is based on concerns that despite recent improvements, the capital could again erupt into widespread violence without an imposing American military presence. [complete article]