[Marxism] UK, Danish troops arrest supporters of Moqtada -- opening of new war within war/

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Dec 9 05:51:03 MST 2006

There seems to be something like a developing consensus, including among
prominent Democrats,  that crushing the Mahdi army and killing Sadr are
necessary preconditions for US adjustments of its war policy.  See
Newsweek's recent cover story on Sadr  "the most dangerous man in Iraq"
(dangerous to whom, may we ask?) - a typical "kill this man and all will be
well" in the spirit of  pre-occupation news stories on the need to get rid
of "the butcher of Baghdad". Well, Saddam has certainly lost that title to
the US government, which is getting ready to celebrate his butchering at the
hands of the occupation regime.

Fred Feldman


Hundreds of UK troops seize Iraqi militants

By Colin Brown
The Independent - UK
Published: 09 December 2006

More than 1,000 British and Danish troops , backed by tanks, helicopters and
boats, arrested five supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr yesterday in the biggest
attack mounted by Allied forces in Basra since the Iraq invasion three years

Forces using 14 main battle tanks, Warrior armoured vehicles, and amphibious
craft mounted a night raid on houses in five areas near the Shatt al-Arab
waterway where four British troops were killed last month on a river patrol.

As amphibious landings took place, about 800 British troops and 200 Danish
troops fought Iraqis who were using small arms fire, rocket-propelled
grenades and a roadside bomb.

There were no coalition or civilian casualties after yesterday's operation,
in which the British troops came under heavy fire as they crossed a bridge,
said Major Charlie Burbridge, the spokesman for the Allied forces in
southern Iraq.

The attack took place as US troops mounted an assault on alleged al-Qa'ida
strongholds near Baghdad, killing 20 insurgents, including two women.

The Ministry of Defence said the Anglo-Danish operation - codenamed Pisa -
had targeted a rogue group of militia who had been carrying out killings and
kidnappings. Officers said they were operating on "very good intelligence".

An arms cache was found in one of the houses which included Katyusha
rockets, roadside bombs, rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The soldiers
also found plastic explosive and fuses, as well as photographs of the
militia they were seeking. They took away computers and will scour them for

The five Iraqis who were detained were described by army commanders as
members of "a rogue, breakaway element" of one of the many Shia militias
operating in the area.

"They've just found pictures of Muqtada al-Sadr in here which shows their
sympathies," said Lieutenant Chris Pickles of C Company, 1 Yorks, who took
part in the combined raid.

Danish soldiers advanced from the north, while the British, in armoured
vehicles, arrived from the south, Major Burbridge said.

Other British forces reached the area on boats travelling to the junction of
the Garmat Ali river and the Shatt al-Arab waterway in the operation that
was supported by helicopters and jets.

The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, said yesterday: "The criminal gangs who
target the people of Basra without discrimination are the scourge of the
city. They stand in the way of democracy and progress. This was a daring yet
vital series of raids, and my wholehearted thanks are extended to the brave
men and women who pulled it off so successfully."

But as Mr Browne hailed the success of the operation, a former minister, the
Labour MP Doug Henderson, called for the immediate withdrawal of British
troops from Basra. "I would have thought that if the Americans in Baghdad
have the situation that we have in Basra they'd be withdrawing now," he said
in a GMTV interview to be screened tomorrow. "I think we should now come to
an agreement with the Americans that the withdrawal should start to take
place in Basra right away."

Tony Blair made it clear there would be no rapid pull-out from Basra in
spite of raised expectations that the withdrawals could start in the spring
as areas were handed over to the Iraqi government forces.

He told ABC News in America: "I think we've got to plan to succeed. If we
start saying to the people we're fighting in Iraq we're ready to get out,
irrespective of the success of the mission, I think that would be very
serious for us."

Mr Blair said this week's Iraq Study Group report "gives us the right
foundation to move forward". His remarks fuelled demands for Mr Blair to
make a full statement to the Commons on Monday on the report which could
signal a change of policy on the Middle East.

The Iraq Study Group, chaired by James Baker, the former US secretary of
state, tackled the sensitive subject of the militias whose charismatic
leaders were challenging the authority of the Iraqi government.

The report sanctioned the use of force "to stop militias that act as death
squads or use violence against institutions of the state'' but it warned
that solving the problem of the militias "requires national reconciliation".


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