…the details of the raid and its origins remained murky, with British and Iraqi officials continuing to offer different accounts. British commanders have said the Iraqi police handed the men over to Shiite militia members, who largely control the Iraqi police and military in Basrawrites Robert F Worth.
Before his untimely death at the hands of Islamic thugs in that very city, Steven Vincent took issue with the common perception (even among America's closest allies) that Europeans are naturally more suave and diplomatic than the uncouth Americans are:
…in conversations I'd had with English soldiers in the city, they took pride in the fact that Basra was considerably less violent than Baghdad and the Sunni triangle. "Well, the Yanks really bollixed that up, now, didn't they?" one sergeant at the CPA compound sneered, a reflection, the Brits unsubtly implied, of their superior wisdom, tactics, and general expertise in administering "occupations." Perhaps that was true. Still, from my own encounters with "intelligence agents," to persistent stories of armed Shia militias operating under the Tommies' noses — and more specifically, of gunmen closing down liquor stores and often executing their owners — I wondered if our ally's pride was merited.Robert Tracinski adds that
the real war in Iraq [is] not the war against Sunni terrorists, but the Cold War against Iran for control of Southern Iraq. The bad news is that the US and Britain have been evading the necessity of this war for the past two years. The good news is that the issue is now too obvious to be evaded--and there is some hope that we might do something to stop the Iranian takeover.
…The basic strategic error of the Bush administration in Iraq is not that it has been too ambitious, but that it has thought too small, trying to deal with Iraq in isolation without realizing that this is a regional war where our targets must include Syria and, first and foremost, the largest state sponsor of terrorism: Iran.
Instead, the administration is trying to confront Iran only through futile UN negotiations and an ineffective attempt to impose sanctions (for the latest on this, see [here]). Meanwhile, aside from backing Shiite militias in Southern Iraq, the Iranian regime seems to be preparing to provoke a larger regional war with the US--a strategy spelled out by Amir Taheri in today's New York Post.