Britain has failed to bring stability to Basra, report says

A parliamentary report Monday painted a bleak picture of the legacy left behind by British forces in southern Iraq, saying they failed to bring security to the port of Basra and the wider province.

Britain has failed to bring stability to Basra, report says
As British forces plan to hand over security to Iraqi forces for the southern province of Basra later this month, violence against civilians was undiminished while Basra city remained in the hands of the fighters and criminal gangs, the parliamentary defence committee said in its report.

It states that while the Iraqi army had made "significant progress," it still needed back-up support from the British - particularly on logistics and intelligence - to operate effectively.

There also remained "serious questions" about the true allegiance of many in the Iraqi police force.

Britain is to hand over security for the whole of Basra province later this month, while planning to cut the overall level of troops from currently 5,500 to around 2,500 from next spring.

The report also questioned the continued viability of the remaining British force, which is now based on the outskirts of Basra at Basra Air Station.

"If there is still a role for UK forces in Iraq, those forces must be capable of doing more than just protecting themselves at Basra Air Station," said the report.

"If the reduction in numbers means they cannot do more than this, the entire UK presence in south eastern Iraq will be open to question."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said British forces in southern Iraq would move from an active combat role to "overwatch," meaning they would intervene only if asked to do so by the Iraqi security forces.

Since the remaining British troops moved out of their Basra Palace headquarters in early September, the number of attacks on them has dropped significantly.

"The fact there has been no corresponding reduction in the number of attacks against the civilian population of the city is a matter of concern," said the committee.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Aralık 2007, 23:28
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