Friday, March 23, 2007
When the British announced they'd be drawing down their troop levels in the south of Iraq, the Bush administration insisted it was a sign not of failure, but of success. So it's instructive to note that exactly two days after British troops pulled out of downtown Basra, turning the city over to the Iraqi Army, street battles broke out between the armed militias of Moqtada al-Sadr and the Fadhila Party which governs the province.
According to the CSM article, it's not clear whether the battles represent a political or clan-related dispute. And it's still too early to tell whether the Iraqi forces will be capable of restoring order. But it seems obvious that given the choice between applying surge-like pressure in Basra and pulling out, the British chose the latter. Probably, I suspect, because they believed that the battles that broke out today might be postponed, but not prevented.
Something to keep in mind as the administration vaunts the initial successes of the Baghdad Surge.