Given that Tony Blair misled Britain on the way into war in Iraq, Gordon Brown had better be very careful not to mislead us on the way out. Are Iraqi forces really able to take on the militias of the warring Sadr and Hakim families? That’s what we’re told, but look at these two quotes from a New York Times piece
Hakim al-Mayahi, provisional council member in charge of security portfolio in Basra:
“We have a huge defect in the equipment and the arming of our security forces. The tribes and locals have better weapons than our security forces, who weren’t provided with more than the usual Kalashnikovs and RPGs while the tribes even have mortars and heavy machine guns”.
And this from Wael Saeed, a 34-year-old sportswear shop owner.
“We [in Basra] may become safe from mortars, but not from killing and assassination because the gangs and militias will feel more free to act without the presence of the British troops who are the only real power that can stop them.”
Invading Iraq then leaving its citizens to the mercies of death squads is not the British way. Gordon Brown says we stand ready to “re-intervene” if necessary, and I hope he means it. The next few months will be crucial. We took the south of Iraq into our care. We have a moral duty to leave it safer than we found it.