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Tuesday | June 24, 2003

Six British soldiers killed, eight wounded in Iraq

British troops killed in Iraq

Six British military personnel have been killed and eight wounded in two separate incidents in southern Iraq, the UK prime minister's office has said.
Downing Street said both incidents happened near the town of Amara, 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Basra.

So what was that about the remnants of Saddam's forces again?

This is the largest loss of life in a single attack since "major combat" ended.

These attacks took place in the Shia heartland, unlikely places for Baath Party loyalists to hang about, causing trouble.

The British have been quietly smug about how they've been getting on with the locals, despite the occasional protest at their headquarters. Now it's clear that the resistance expects to take their war beyond the Sunni belt.

This is also very bad news for Tony Blair. With his poll ratings falling and questions in the Commons still coming fast and furious, the death and wounding of 14 soldiers can't do anything to help his case.

CENTCOM would do well to admit that opposition in Iraq comes from many different factions, not just those pining for Saddam. Iraqis have neither forgotten nor forgiven our 1991 betrayal of the Shia or British colonialism enforced with poison gas.

This clearly makes sending any "peacekeeping" troops to Iraq that much harder. As long as the Americans were the RPG sponges, it wasn't a problem, but now that the resistance has reached the south, many of these countries, already deploying on the US dime, may still reconsider.

The Coalition Protection Authority lives in an isolated fantasy land where they think the free market cures all. The one thing which could send Iraqis into a rage is an attempt to denationalize the oil industry. Nationalization is widely seen as the one thing the Baath party got right and to undo is could spread resistance across the country as few things could.

Seeing Jerry Bremer talk about investments and the power being on while Iraqis swelter and grow angry, attributing our ineptitude to malice and indifference, is to wonder what world he lives in. With his perfect, Kuwaiti pressed suits, and his cooler than cool sunglasses, he seems as remote and out of touch as any Middle Eastern prince. There isn't going to be any investment in a country where the pipelines get blown on a biweekly basis and the equipment gets stolen. Where the political parties routinely discuss going to war. It took him weeks to decide to finally pay off the Iraqi Army, a decision so obvious that to not do so reflects an amazing lack of common sense.

It isn't Baath Party loyalists alone, or foreign volunteers. It's Iraqis. Many are willing to work with guerrillas to kill their occupiers.

The war is not over. Anyone who says so is a liar. In fact it may just be beginning.

Steve Gilliard

Posted June 24, 2003 09:47 AM | Comments (148)


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