Monday, November 22, 2010

British Aid To Iraqi Navy Headed For Abrupt End

British Marine trains two Iraqis on a patrol boat
England currently has 100 Royal Marines at the Um Qasr Naval Base in Basra province training and advising the Iraqi Navy. Because Iraq’s politicians have taken so long to form a new government, the Marines’ mandate to stay in the country is about to expire at the end of November 2010. That means they will all have to depart shortly afterward.

In late November 2009 Baghdad and London struck a deal to allow British forces to remain in Iraq to train the Iraqi Navy and Marines. The English forces main task was to help with the protection of the Basra and Khor Amaya oil terminals, which are responsible for up to 80% of Iraq’s petroleum exports. Together with the Iraqis, the Marines maintain a two mile exclusion zone around each terminal.

The two countries expected the British to stay until January 2012 when the Iraqi Navy would be equipped and trained to take over full responsibility for the port of Basra. That’s now in jeopardy because the mandate for the Marines is going to expire in just a few days. Since Iraq’s politicians haven’t even come up with a government yet, it’s unlikely that parliament will have the time to pass a new agreement with London. The United States, which also has sailors and marines stationed in Basra, said that they would take over the British responsibilities.


Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq June 2010,” 9/7/10

Lando, Ben, “UK Navy likely gone,” Iraq Oil Report, 11/19/10

Times of London, “British Navy leads the way as Iraqi sailors learn to safeguard nation’s oil trade,” 12/3/09

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