Global Policy Forum

Basra Officials Demand British Apology


Iraqi Premier Plays Down Incident as 'Regrettable'
and Assures it Will Not Affect Relations

Daily Star
September 22, 2005

The governor of Basra, its provincial government, and hundreds of protesters said they will end all cooperation with British forces in the southern Iraqi city until Britain apologizes for deadly clashes between its forces and Iraqi police. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari sought to play down the "regrettable incident," telling reporters in London it "will not affect our relations with Britain."

In Basra, up to 500 Iraqis, including policemen, marched through the streets, calling for the city police chief to be fired and for the "British terrorists" to be returned to Iraqi jurisdiction.

Several hours later, Basra's provincial council held an emergency meeting and voted unanimously "to stop dealing with the British forces working in Basra and not to cooperate with them because of their irresponsible aggression on a government facility." In a statement, the council demanded Britain apologize to Basra's citizens and police, and provide compensation for the families of people killed or wounded in the violence. The council also said it would punish employees who had not tried to defend the Basra police station from the British military attack.

"The British troops should stop these barbarian and illegal actions," Basra's governor, Mohammad al-Waili, said. "I am one of the 41 members of the provincial council, and I support boycotting the British troops and stopping all the cooperation with them until our demands are met."

Clashes between British forces and Iraqi police have killed five civilians, including two who died of their injuries yesterday in a hospital, authorities said.

The fighting occurred Monday night when British forces used armored vehicles to storm a Basra jail and free their two soldiers who had been arrested by police. During the raid, British forces learned that Shiite militiamen and police had moved the men to a nearby house. The British then stormed that house and rescued them.

But Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr told the BBC that the men had never left police custody, and were not handed to militants.

In London, Jaafari and Defense Secretary John Reid met privately to discuss a wide range of issues, said the clashes in Basra will not undermine the relations between the two countries.

"At this time, where there are forces in Basra and all over Iraq, such things are expected to happen," Jaafari told reporters. "As for us, it will not affect the relationship between Iraq and Britain, and we hope that together we will reach ... the truth of the matter." Reid said "there has not been a fundamental breakdown in trust between the British government and the Iraqi government," and he vowed British troops would stay in Iraq until it was stable. "We will not cut and run, and we will not leave the job half done," Reid said.

Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, told Reuters the investigation into the raid would focus on whether the two British men were in fact handed over to the militia group and whether they were found in an annex to the jail or a private house. Iraqi authorities admitted that insurgents had infiltrated the police and other security forces in Basra and elsewhere.

"Our Iraqi security forces in general, and these in particular and in many parts of Iraq, I have to admit that they have been penetrated by some of the insurgents," Rubaie told the BBC. He said he did not know the extent of the infiltration, but said new procedures were in place to get rid of bad apples.

Officials in Basra said at least 60 percent of the police force there is made up of Shiite militiamen from one of three groups: the Mehdi Army; the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; and Hizbullah in Iraq, a small group based in the southern marshlands.

In other unrest yesterday, Iraqi security forces killed five rebels in a house raid in the Al-Mansour neighborhood of western Baghdad. Two soldiers and a policeman were killed in the raid, while three policemen and two soldiers were wounded, security sources said.

More Information on Iraq
More Information on Occupation and Rule in Iraq
More Information on Resistance to the Occupation


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.