The New York Times reports: The forlorn scenes in the ancient Al-Ukhaidir fortress tell of a government force in deep disarray. Flies circle beneath its high ceilings, above dozens of demoralized men who pass the day sleeping on dusty stone floors.
Until late June, this eighth-century redoubt in the Shiite south of Iraq had been a tourist and heritage site. Now the remnants of the Ninth Brigade find shelter within its walls.
These men have no pressing duties, even at a time of Iraq’s grave need. Instead, more than 300 miles from posts they had been ordered to defend, they huddled around visitors to describe an embarrassing retreat.
“We were sold, it was a sellout,” said one of the enlisted men, as a crowd of his fellow guards nodded in agreement. “Everyone here was willing to fight.”
The account of the Ninth Brigade of Iraq’s border guards, confirmed by an official who witnessed many of the events, is a portrait of generals unfit to lead in war and of mismanagement, incompetence and ultimately treachery under the patronage of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. [Continue reading…]