In Basra, violence is a tenth of what it was before British pullback, general says
Attacks against British and Iraqi forces have plunged by 90 percent in southern Iraq since London withdrew its troops from the main city of Basra, the commander of British forces there said Thursday.
The presence of British forces in downtown Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was the single largest instigator of violence, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns told reporters Thursday on a visit to Baghdad's Green Zone.
"We thought, 'If 90 percent of the violence is directed at us, what would happen if we stepped back?'" Binns said.
Britain's 5,000 troops moved out of a former Saddam Hussein palace at Basra's heart in early September, setting up a garrison at an airport on the city's edge. Since that pullback, there's been a "remarkable and dramatic drop in attacks," Binns said.
"The motivation for attacking us was gone, because we're no longer patrolling the streets," he said.
Last spring, British troops' daily patrols through central Basra led to "steady toe to toe battles with militias fighting some of the most tactically demanding battles of the war," Binns said. Now British forces rarely enter the city center, an area patrolled only by Iraqis.
In mid-December, British forces are scheduled to return control of Basra province back to Iraqi officials — officially ending Britain's combat role in Iraq.
"We've been in that de facto role since we moved out of the palace...but we hope the (December) transfer will symbolize the end of a period many in Basra city perceived as occupation," Binns said.
With an overwhelmingly Shiite population, Basra has not seen the level of sectarian violence that has torn Iraq apart since the Feb. 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine north of Baghdad.
But it has seen major fighting between insurgents and coalition troops, as well as between Shiite militias vying for control of the city and its security forces.
British officials expected a spike in such "intra-militia violence" after they pulled back from the city's center, and were surprised to find none, Binns said.
More in the International Herald Tribune ... (emphasis added)
My comment: Fewer troops, less violence? No f@&%ing comment.
The people in Iraq don't hate us for our freedoms ... they hate us because we're there.
Al Qaeda doesn't hate us for our freedoms, either ... they said quite clearly in their initial statements that they hated us because we had troops stationed in their holiest of holy lands - Saudi Arabia.
Now, I don't put much credibility in anyone's religious silliness but, I do think it's probably a good idea to listen to people when they give us their reasons for hating us. If we actually listened, it would go a long way toward providing the proper solution.
My sense is that Bush's language comprehension is, unfortunately, on par with his verbal eloquence. Cheney just wants to be a regular Dick, shot something ... and ensure that Haliburton makes more profit than they know what to do with.