Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Battle for Basra

Yet again, the so-called liberal media with it’s anti-war bias soft-soaped a story that should be screaming from the front pages.

The way the WaPo tells it, it sounds almost like a routine operation.

BAGHDAD, May 26 -- U.S. and British troops battled Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra on Friday and Saturday, killing about a dozen fighters shortly after the influential Shiite cleric demanded a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

But Reuters gives a tad more detail. (but not much)

BASRA, Iraq, May 26 (Reuters) - British forces used an airstrike as they fought off attacks in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, military officials said on Saturday, but angry residents said the strike killed eight civilians.

British and Iraqi forces came under a series of attacks for more than two hours overnight in Basra, a gateway to the Gulf and Iraq's rich southern oilfields, by insurgents using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

The attacks against British and Iraqi posts came hours after Wissam Abdul Qader, also known as Abu Qader, the head of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in Basra, was killed by Iraqi special forces on Friday.

Angry crowds carried the coffins of eight people in a funeral procession through the streets of Basra on Saturday. They said the eight were civilians killed in the airstrike.

Yes. Once again an airstrike was necessary to quell the fighting. Airstrikes are a last resort when a force is pretending to care about civilian casualties. I have noticed a significant uptick in the necessity of overwhelming airpower to save coalition forces. (When you have the only Air Force, you of course win every battle. But at what cost?)

It only stands to reason that as the war grinds on, the desert takes its toll on man and materiel alike, and as coalition forces feel the strain, those they are fighting are learning to develop tactics, and are strategizing to employ them effectively. They have are now attacking fortified positions.

None of this bodes well for the occupying forces.

Professor Cole is more diplomatic in his assessment than I – he says “[Y]ou have the sense that both politically and militarily, the British are hanging on in Basra by their fingernails.”

Unlike the esteemed Professor Cole, I have no possible future as a diplomat. I will be more blunt.

The Brits are losing Basra. Period.

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