It’s funny. I scoured right-wing nuthouse The Corner today for anything about today’s front page story in the Chicago Tribune (and any other newspaper you might have seen) and I can’t seem to find a mention. It’s the one about that British withdrawal from Iraq and what it really means for Tony Blair, and the city of Basra (where the British troops were largely concentrated). Not even a mention! Maybe this is why:
Though the security situation in Basra is far better than in Baghdad, it could hardly be described as satisfactory.
In Basra, the local government is controlled by a coalition of fundamentalist parties who have enforced a form of Islamic law. Few women dare go out without a head scarf. Secularists say they don’t feel safe from the periodic assassinations of those who challenge the official line. The threat of kidnapping has put Basra off-limits to Westerners unless they stay within British compounds.
“Those who have their own opinions, and those who don’t have an Islamic attitude, they are in danger,” said Adel al-Thamery, who runs a journalism training program in Basra. “And Basra is not a safe place for foreigners at all. There are gangs on the roads, and there are political factions who use violence to achieve their goals, and then of course there are our neighbors, the Iranians.”
Iran’s influence is heavily felt in Iraq’s second-largest city, just a few miles from the Iranian border, and Iran is considered the dominant power in the city, he said. “The British have never controlled Basra,” he said.
Ah ha. I see. Sounds like they’ve got that under control! So this is what Bush and Cheney call progress? I can see why The Corner, and any right-wing nut, would ignore this story.
As for the Pentagon, in its most recent quarterly report to Congress, it 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. Well, who you gonna believe anyway?