by The Other Katherine Harris
Sept. 12, 2007
Sometimes an “exclusive” really is. So far, London Independent reporter Kim Sengupta seems to own the latest news of British forces in Iraq – namely, that many of Basra Bunch have been ordered to the Iran border. Definitively off is the homecoming promised just a few days ago to hundreds of service members. One can only wonder how they’re taking it, but their commander — Brigadier James Bashall, last heard railing against American pressure that kept his group in Basra five months longer than he viewed as necessary, at the cost of 11 soldiers killed and 62 wounded — is, well, sucking it up.
“We have been asked to help at the Iranian border to stop the flow of weapons and I am willing to do so,” Bashall said, adding, “We are also prepared to restore order in Basra City if asked to do so.”
Thus a vocal critic has been turned handmaid. Sengupta writes, “The decision to return to the frontier has been heavily influenced by the highly charged and very public dispute with the U.S. British commanders feel that they cannot turn down the fresh American request for help after refusing to delay the withdrawal from Basra Palace.”
The author of this excellent article filed from Baghdad today also tells us: “In signs of a fast-developing confrontation, the Iranians have threatened military action in response to attacks launched from Iraqi territory while the Pentagon has announced the building of a US base and fortified checkpoints at the frontier… The (British) operation is regarded as a high-risk strategy which could lead to clashes with Iranian-backed Shia militias or even Iranian forces and also leaves open the possibility of Iranian retaliation in the form of attacks against British forces at the Basra air base or inciting violence to draw them back into Basra City. Relations between the two countries are already fraught after the Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized a British naval party in the Gulf earlier this year.”
So, if your stomach wasn’t already churning with horror after the Petraeus performance yesterday, this should do it.