Only Blair could repackage scuttle as a political victory. The situation in the south of Iraq has worsened over the last few years as British troops have withdrawn from the main towns, leaving the local areas in the control of the Mahdi Army and the Shi’a militias, often under the influence of Iran. The Times reports that the main tasks assigned to the British Army: pacification and reconstruction, have not been achieved.
Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washing-ton, said the British move would simply hand more power to the Islamist groups backed by neighbouring Iran. “The British cuts will in many ways simply reflect the political reality that the British ‘lost’ the south more than a year ago,” he said.
Although there is no Sunni-Shia carnage to compare with Baghdad, the Shia-dominated south has been torn by a cutthroat internal competition for power that has turned bloody. Since August, both Diwaniyah and Amara have been convulsed by clashes between the mainly Shia Iraqi Army, and Sadr’s militia.
Unwilling to increase defence expenditure and recruitment, the government tried to hide behind a victory message whilst hoping to prevent the possible creation of a Shi’astan with a reduced force. Soldiers have done a sterling job under impossible political conditions, whilst stabbed in the back by the hypocrites in the Liberal Democrats. If the government cannot fulfil the security commitments that Blair undertook on our behalf, it should say so honourably and withdraw leaving the United States to hold the ring. If a hot war results from the Shi’a-Sunni tensions ensuing, Blair’s legacy will stand out: defeat abroad, failure at home.