The Pentagon, in its most recent quarterly report to Congress, listed Basra as one of five cities outside Baghdad where violence remained "significant," and said the region was one of only two "not ready for transition" to Iraqi authorities.The Iraq war is even more unpopular in Britain than the US. However, contrary to KTRH's military expert I heard yesterday, Blair did not pull out to prevent a vote of no confidence. Blair has already promised to resign between May and September of this year. Blair needs the troops from Iraq in Afghanistan as he is well aware that is a more important staging area for international terrorists and that the West is losing Afghanistan to the Taliban.
Most analysts say the prime minister's assertion that significant progress had been made in securing southern Iraq stretched the facts. Though the south is not nearly as violent and chaotic as the capital and the Sunni heartland to the west, it remains jittery, unstable and frequently bloody. Shiite militias and armed gangs lord over such cities as Basra and Amarah, as well as the long, desolate stretches of roadway through the marshlands and deserts of the south.
British bases in Basra regularly come under mortar fire. British troops engage in almost daily gunfights with militiamen. In recent months, the British all but evacuated their downtown base and moved to a more secure site on the grounds of the city's airport.
A study on the south issued this week by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank that has been sympathetic to the Bush administration's foreign policy goals, describes southern Iraq in dire terms. It notes that Basra, once one of Iraq's more liberal and cosmopolitan cities, has become a bastion for Islamists who use the south's vast oil wealth to "fill their war chests."
"The province has suffered one of the worst reversals of fortune of any area in Iraq since the fall of Saddam [Hussein]'s regime," the report says.
Why the White House spins? It is more important for the administration to lie to the American people to keep more of the Republican Party from defecting over Iraq than to acknowledge that the Bush-Cheney Iraq policies have not worked and that no one thinks the new plan, same as the old plan, is any better. This "new plan" is the same plan that was tried last summer with a few more troops. That failed miserably after two months with the realization that it had increased the violence and didn't work.
For details on the Bush "secret" plan they were leaked to a conservative blogger
While there are big problems with the Iranian sympathizers who run the current Iraqi government I don't think a new consititution that the US imposes, contrary to its stated policies in Iraq, will cure them and they will remain the majority in power. Democracy is like that. When the Iraqi prime minister has to support a gang rape to appease the religious majority it is time to leave, not change the constitution.
Update - view the Pentagon map on Iraq provinces.