Fraser Nelson

What we’re leaving behind in Basra

What we're leaving behind in Basra
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In macabre contrast to James’ post about the effects of the US surge, The Guardian splashes on the mayhem in Basra left by Britain’s shameful under-commitment to the provinces under our care. It’s mainly an interview with Major General Jalil Khalaf, the head of the Basra police, who says he can’t control the militias and (as we blogged last week) that women are getting killed for un-Islamic behaviour. Its website also offers a superb, chilling six-minute online video about what’s happening in Basra in an interview with Khalaf.

The British did not mean to create a mess here in Basra. The chaos came from the way they set up the security forces. They didn’t do it correctly. The recruits to the police were chosen by political parties, which was wrong. Then the militias and political parties interfered with the security services. Thousands of weapons and police vehicles were given by the British to the wrong people. Even the civilians received handguns. There’s so much work to be done here, but sadly the British didn’t pay attention to this issue when they arrived here in 2003."

This was obvious years ago, and reported in the American press where it was viewed as far more of an outrage than it was seen in Britain. but no one (especially in Britain) had an eye to see it.

“Where are the religious people and the politicians?” asks Khalaf. “Why have people kept silent? I don’t know.”

It’s a good question. I was speaking to a Fleet St foreign editor recently who said they can’t justify the costs of sending reporters to Basra to write about this slaughter there as there isn’t the public interest to justify it. It’s like Britain, collectively, doesn’t want to know. So all credit to the Guardian for pushing this in people’s faces. The tragedy is that had it run splashes like this in the last two years, this government may have been shamed into making the extra commitment the Americans are making now. The option Brown has chosen is to cut and run

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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