The Amara lesson Thursday, October 26, 2006
Perhaps the lesson from the recent troubles in Amara when militias took over large parts of the city gives a clear answer and offers Iraqis and the allies a forecast of what the future holds for us should we make the wrong decisions.
Reporters' log: Iraqi elections 30 January, 2005
Christian Fraser : al-Amara : 1405 GMT - Across the south of the country, thousands of people have turned up to the polls, so many that a number of polling stations are staying open past the 1700 (1400 GMT) closing time. In Maysan, home to the Marsh Arabs so long oppressed by the Saddam regime, many turned up before 1100, but so busy were polling stations in the town of al-Asaya that two of them had to close while officials marshalled the crowds. There have been few reported incidents, although there have been several close calls. In the town of Maja al-Kabir, north of Basra, three rocket propelled grenades were fired at a British regiment. There were no casualties, but a nearby truck was hit and destroyed. In Kalet Sulli, two men were discovered trying to set up a homemade rocket launcher fixed on election centres. Police opened fire and the men ran off.
Tit-for-tat: Iran accuses Britain of weapons smuggling Wed. 12 Oct 2005
The top police commander in the [Khuzestan, Iran] province also said, “With the efforts of the State Security Forces in the province of Khuzestan and during an intelligence operation, 117 guns were discovered and confiscated from four weapons smugglers in the province”. “These smugglers said during interrogation that the weapons had been brought in from the Iraqi province of al-Amara”, Brig. Gen. Isa Darai said. “According to the confessions of the smugglers, there are several markets in the Iraqi province of al-Amara where weapons are bought and sold. British and American military forces are fully aware of the illegal actions and the smuggling of weapons to Iran. This is happening at a time when control in al-Amara is the responsibility of British troops”, the SSF chief in Khuzestan said.
Iraq attack kills two UK soldiers 28 February 2006
Two British soldiers have been killed and another injured by a roadside bomb in Amara, southern Iraq, the Ministry of Defence has said. The three were attached to a battlegroup mainly made up of members of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
Britain takes a misstep in Iraq Aug 30, 2006
British commanders are sanguine as to the military challenges. In the wake of the Camp Abu Naji withdrawal in Maysan they say they will be conducting new guerrilla-style operations in the borderlands of eastern Maysan province. Deploying a highly mobile force of around 600 men - modeled on British Special Forces fighting in North Africa during World War II - commanders say its role will be to chase and finish off insurgents.
HUMINT: Going Guerrilla 9/4/2006
Beatings, abductions, shootings: on patrol with the al-Mahdi army October 03, 2006
US intelligence believes that the militia in the capital boasts 15 special forces companies and at least eight intelligence companies. Basra and Amara in the south are places where the cleric has had difficulty guarding his authority, he said. But military officials admitted that it may suit him to have some elements operating under the cover of being a rebel faction. “There are probably elements that are not rogue but are deniable,” the officer said.
The British officer said: 'We are now just another tribe' Saturday October 14, 2006
"We are in a tribal society in Basra and we [the British army] are in effect one of these tribes," said Lt Col Simon Brown, commander of the 2nd Battalion. "As long as we are here the others will attack us because we are the most influential tribe. We cramp their style."
'We have liberated Amara from the British. Basra next' Saturday October 21, 2006
Ten days ago I sat on a mattress on the floor of a Mahdi army safe house talking to Abu Mahdi, a slim 40-year-old, bearded former Arabic teacher and low level commander in the Shia militia. I had first encountered him in Najaf in August 2004, when the Mahdi army seized the holy city. Now he boasted of how his comrades were effectively in control of his home town, 200 miles south of Baghdad."As we have liberated Amara from the British, Basra is next," he said. "My men are everywhere, can you see the British anywhere? For the people in the street it's my men who rule the town."
Meanwhile the militias rained down mortars on the camp daily and ambushed supply lines. According to Lt Col David La Bouchere, commander of the Queens Royal Hussars battle group, around 283 mortars were fired in from last March to August. The camp needed constant resupplying by around 160 trucks every couple of weeks. "It was a very stupid situation, we needed six to seven companies of soldiers just to protect the base," said Lt Col La Bouchere. "The answer was to leave the base and depend on a more mobile force." When the British left two months ago, officers called it a tactical redeployment; the people of Amara called it a retreat.