They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Basra in the grip of militias

Amid warnings that southern Iraq could erupt into civil war when British troops withdraw, Basra's chief of police has publicly admitted that his forces have been unable to clamp down on growing militia warfare in the city.

In recent months, rival Shia factions have been battling for control of the city which is considered the second largest in the country and home to Iraq's only port.

This makes the Basra a vital outlet to the Gulf for marine transportation of oil and fuel products – a lucrative prize for any political faction looking to consolidate its power in Baghdad.

The ensuing power struggle has led to an exodus of Sunni, Shia and Christian families northwards and often out of the country.

Earlier this week, Major-General Jalil Khalaf, commander of the Basra police department, admitted for the first time that the militias have proven too strong for – and often infiltrated - his forces. Read more