Posted by: Lister | April 10, 2008

Did Iraq snub Britain?

Times on-line says that, while Britain claimed their soldiers weren’t asked to help because the Iraqis could manage alone, the Iraqis took American help. They also say that Maliki refused to meet the Brit big-wig — Brigadier Julian Free.

A source familiar with the sequence of events said that Mr al-Maliki seemed to have it in for the British because of the alleged “deal” struck with the Shia militia last year under which they agreed not to attack Britain’s last battalion as it withdrew from Basra in return for the release of several of their leading members from prison.

[…] A defence source played down the snub, saying: “Mr al-Maliki only deals with people at a certain level.” The source added that Major-General Barney White-Spunner, the British General Officer Commanding Multinational Division Southeast, had been out of the country at the time.

British troops did become involved in the operation eventually, first with RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft firing warning shots over Shia militia areas of Basra and then supplying troops from two battle groups to help the Iraqis, although not in the city itself.

And there are now 150 British troops in Basra, alongside Iraqi forces.

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