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Full Version: Al Sadr takes Basra?
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Iraq: Mahdi army taking control of Basra

Notice that Basra was in the UK control area, but the Brits totally withdrew from the city a couple of months ago. Basra is probably the most strategically important city in Iraq.

Does this mean that the Iranians are on the move?
FWIW,Michael Yon says Basra is far better now than 1 year ago,he is back in Iraq. Below are excerpts from :


I wasn’t back in Iraq three days before this critical disconnect rocketed up from the ground and whacked me in the face. There I was with British soldiers, preparing for a mission with a duration of more than ten days in the southern province of al Basra, when someone asked me about the media reports alleging that Basra city had collapsed into violent chaos. Not wishing to trust solely to my own eyes and ears, I asked around and was able to quickly confirm what I’d already noted: conditions in this region had improved dramatically in the months since my previous embed with the Brits.

When “Maysan” was published, that milestone event had to compete with bad news coming from a college campus in Virginia.

That month-long experience was marked by “Jaish al Mahdi” (Mahdi Army or JAM)-related attacks on British soldiers. These attacks were further fueled by enemy media operations which distorted the long-planned draw-down of British troops in Basra city, something I noted in the dispatch “Maysan”:

As the British increase their forces in Afghanistan, they are drawing down in Iraq. Although the drawdown in Iraq is based on pragmatism, the enemy apparently is attempting to create the perception of a military rout. So while the British reduce their forces in southern Iraq, they are coming under heavier fire and the enemy makes claims of driving “the occupiers” out.

In reality, the Brits were about to transfer authority over the Maysan Province to the Iraqi government. Thus, the day’s purpose, although seemingly more ceremonial in nature, was to counterpunch in the perception war, by focusing on the progress being made by the Iraqi Security Forces in the region. Some of the biggest battles in Iraq today are being fought not with bombs and bullets, but with cameras and keyboards. For whatever reasons—and there are many—today, when Western media is most needed here, it’s nearly gone.

Several upcoming dispatches will focus on how the situation in Southern Iraq has dramatically improved over past months. Ironically, the character of this improvement is distinguished by the lack of violence, as well as the increasing order and normality as Iraqi Security Forces step up to greater responsibility for security in the region. Though the local leadership picture in downtown Basra is fuzzier now that British forces have pulled further back to begin performing their long-planned overwatch phase, it is clear that this natural progression in turning Basra over to Iraqi control has not catapulted the city into chaos.

Nic Robertson of CNN was recently down here. I saw him out on the Iranian border. When Mr. Robertson and I appeared jointly on CNN, his reporting was accurate and in context.

No one who’s actually been to this area in the last month could honestly claim it was swarming with violence. I’ve been with the Brits here for more than two weeks, during which time there have been only a few trivial attacks that could easily have been the work of an angry farmer with extra time on his hands and a mortar in his backyard. As to serious attacks on British forces, in the last eight weeks, there have been exactly zero. So, any stories that make it sound like Basra is in chaos are shamefully false.

Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. I’ve written often about the near complete failure of most media reporting—as the craft is most typically plied over here—to capture the truth of Iraq and accurately portray it in an increasingly commercial news environment.