Synchronicity is a wonderful thing. Barely a week after the Big-W-War party loses both houses of Congress (to the small w-war party) and Henry Kissinger declares Iraq to be lost, the British government declares that the four Basra-region provinces under its lack-of-control will be ready for handover to Iraqi forces. Quelle coincidence.

But out of the frying pan…many of the 7,200 troops will be moved to Afghanistan to prolong the lost war against the Taliban there.

But it is deceitful beyond belief to suggest that the Basra provinces are in some sort of pacified state, as a glance at the kidnappings and mortar attacks recorded in one of the best blogs with a Basra focus records.

The sooner there’s a total withdrawal the better, because the majority of Iraqis clearly want it, and whatever is going to happen will happen when occupying forces leave – but to pretend that it is occurring because areas of Iraq have somehow been made ready is really a new level of deceit.

Of course, as recorded by the invaluable occupation news collation site, Basra is considerably less worse than the rest of the country which has just recorded 3,100 violent civilian deaths for October – the worst month since 2003. Yesterday’s multiple attack – which will ultimately have a death toll of about 300 – was, as I noted a fortnight ago, the beginning of the next stage of total conflict in Baghdad.

Much of this is due to the fact that the area is Sh’ite rather than mixed, as Baghdad is. But it’s also due to the smarter occupation strategy of the British forces. Part of the reason for the strict division between British and American zones of occupation was due to the fact that British soldiers have refused to patrol with Americans – because their generally lower intelligence and recourse to violence as a means of communication tends to produce innumerable avoidable violent incidents.

But the other reason that the province is less unsafe is because the clan-based militias and the uniformed services are perfectly fused – there is no arm’s length state to hand over to. There’s just a hole in the map, smoothly run by gangs.

All good, on a day, as p-ssed-off vet notes, when the Iraq war has now run one day longer than the US participation in World War II.

Peter Fray

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