Achcar on Basra & British
Gilbert Achcar kindly writes:
‘ Dear Friends,
I searched a couple of British newspapers today and could not find any mention of the news item reported in today’s Al-Hayat and involving British troops in Basrah.
I decided therefore to translate it for your information.
The behavior of British troops in Southern Iraq, long praised as a model by contrast with the behavior of US troops, is proving as bad from the point of view of colonial-like arrogance.
Juan Cole reported the arrest on “Informed Comment” quoting an AP dispatch, with the following observation:
“The British military raided Iraqi police offices in Basra and arrested a number of police officers whom they suspected of being double agents for sectarian militias. What the Western press seldom notes is that such police were appointed by the elected governing council of Basra, which is dominated by Shiite religious parties that maintain paramilitaries. Actually, since the elected officials had a right to appoint the police under Iraqi law, whereas there is no legal instrument governing the conduct of British troops in Iraq, it is not clear from where the authority comes for the British to arrest Iraqi police officers.”
The statement of the Governor of Basrah quoted below is clear enough.
British Forces Arrest 12 Police Officers in Basrah
The Governorate Council Considers Expelling Them from the City
Basrah- Al-Hayat, 2006-01-25
British forces raided yesterday morning the home of Major Jasim Hasan, the deputy director of the Criminal Intelligence Division in Basrah and arrested him with other members of his family, as well as his four guards.
The staff of the Intelligence Directorate, with the support of the Al-Hallaf clan to which the arrested officer belongs, held a demonstration in front of the Governorate offices, demanding the release of the detainees and the firing of General Hasan Sawadi, the commander of Basrah police force. The demonstrators shouted slogans against British troops, threatening anyone who collaborates with them, and affirming that the demonstrations will go on in front of the Governorate offices until their demands are satisfied.
Parents of detainees belonging to the Sadrist Current and held in the jails of the British troops joined the demonstrators, demanding the release of their sons and threatening the occupation forces of more attacks against them.
Mr Abu-Salam al-Khazaali, a member of the Basrah Governorate Council, said that it is high time to put an end to the behavior of the British, who “assaulted officers of the Police directorate and their families,” adding that “these officers are among the best members of the security services.” … The Governor of Basrah, Muhammad al-Wa’eli, said that the Governorate Council is meeting “to issue important resolutions, including a resolution to expulse British troops from the city, and to refuse to deal with British firms and entrepreneurs operating in the Basrah Governorate.” He added that “British troops arrested 12 intelligence officers of the Ministry of Interior in Basrah yesterday morning without informing the administrative authorities.” He condemned “the irresponsible actions of British troops in the city and the arrest of members of the local authorities, without giving them prior notice and informing them about the measures.”… ‘