Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Chilcot Inquiry Section 9.4 June 2005 To May 2006


From the summer of 2005 to the summer of 2006 the British were having trouble on two fronts in Iraq. First, despite Prime Minister Tony Blair still thinking positively about the war officials in his government still believed that the Coalition was failing. In the south which the U.K. was responsible for its own strategy was also not working and the focus turned to how it could withdraw as quickly as possible, which mimicked the American plan which the Brits were critical of.

 

PM Blair and President Bush were of like mind when it came to Iraq. On June 6, 2005 for instance Blair sent Bush a note saying Iraq could send a moral message to the world about what the U.S. and U.K. wanted to create in the world. Likewise on June 28 Bush gave a speech at Fort Bragg talking about creating a democracy in Iraq and advancing freedom across the Middle East. This became the theme of the British and American leaders after the invasion that they were trying to change not only Iraq but the entire region it resided in. The problem was neither had a strategy that could achieve it. Worse, they didn’t even know it believing both their governments were working towards victory when they weren’t.

 

In the halls of the British government the view was that Iraq was descending into chaos. On September 14, 2005, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared war on Shiites and released a wave of bombings upon the community. On September 18 British General Brims reported an average of 12 car bombs a week in Baghdad while casualties were up 122%. The next day Sir Nigel Sheinwald pointed out major flaws in the Coalition strategy which was based upon reaching political deadlines like passing a constitution, holding a referendum on it and holding elections in 2005 for a new Iraqi government. The argument was that these events would draw Iraqis into the new political system, violence would decline and the Coalition could withdraw in 2006. Pulling out British and American forces was also believed to be a way to win over Sunnis.

 

That didn’t happen as the chief of defense intelligence General Ridgway noted in an October 5 report. He found security was getting worse despite the political progress. He argued that if things didn’t change a withdrawal would not be possible because there would be no stability in the country. Another British paper from October 12 said the constitution didn’t deal with major issues and the referendum that passed it showed widespread polarization between communities rather than drawing them together. Finally, a Joint Intelligence Committee assessment on December 14 said the insurgency was still firmly entrenched and attacks were going up. Sunni alienation which was the driving force behind supporting militant groups was unchanged while the jihadists were irreconcilable and rejected politics. This proved the entire American strategy failed. The U.S. didn’t address the root causes of violence, and its political steps increased divisions rather than overcoming them.

 

Sir Nigel Sheinwald suggested changes in Coalition policy. Sheinwald wrote that the Coalition go after Al Qaeda in Iraq, find Sunnis who were willing to reconcile with the Iraqi government, integrate military and civilian operations, protect Iraq’s cities, and rebuild the country’s civil society. Secretary of State Powell sent a letter to Blair on September 21 agreeing with these ideas however nothing changed. Blair was disconnected from events on the ground just like President Bush was. Both were letting the Iraq War drift with deadly consequences. With no one leading the conflict it was left adrift for years.

 

The British were having their own problems in Basra which was the hub of their operations in Iraq. On September 19, two British soldiers were arrested by Iraqi police. They were doing an undercover mission when four plain clothes policemen arrested them. The soldiers thought they were under attack and opened fire killing one policeman and wounding two others. The Brits were taken to the Basra police station where they were beaten and sent to the Serious Crime Unit which was run by the Mahdi Army. Negotiations to get the soldiers released failed with the Crime Unit ignoring orders from the Interior Ministry and Basra police chief. The British ended up mounting a military rescue mission storming the Crime Unit but its soldiers were not there. Instead they were found in a Mahdi Army safe house. These events caused a political firestorm in Basra and showed how badly the British had run the province. When the British first took over Basra they let the militias take over the government thinking that would be a way to co-opt them and integrate them into the new Iraq. Instead they took over elements of the government to rob, steal, and commit various crimes while carrying out attacks on the U.K.

 

A September 30 Defense and Foreign Office assessments of the Basra police clashes said that they challenged the U.K.’s policy in the south. It noted that political parties and militias were the greatest threat in the south and the British had few options to deal with them. It suggested that Baghdad crackdown on the south, replace the Basra police chief, but at the same time accelerate the British withdrawal. This was the exact same policy the U.S. was failing at. The Iraqi government and security forces were not ready to establish law and order and they were not going to take on the parties and militias that were part of the ruling elite. The British and Americans ignored that believing that the Iraqis were ready to step up and that would allow the U.S. and U.K. to get out of Iraq.

 

The British in Basra responded to this crisis by opening dialogue with Moqtada al-Sadr. On September 22 a government official said that Sadr wanted to meet with the U.K. about the south and to resolve differences. The British initially said they couldn’t negotiate with him because he was working with Iran and Hezbollah and attacking U.K. troops. Despite that it moved ahead anyway. Sadr’s main demand was getting his followers released by the British. The first set of talks went nowhere because the British wouldn’t release any Mahdi Army members and Sadr continued to threaten the U.K. as a result. Eventually however the British caved and began letting Sadrists go, but the movement did not respond by decreasing attacks. It was yet another failure of the Coalition to deal with the complexities of Iraq. Appeasing Sadr did nothing to change his attitude and he continued to be a menace to the British in the south.

 

SOURCES

 

The Iraq Inquiry, The Report of the Iraq Inquiry, 7/6/16

 

PREVIOUS CHILCOT REPORTS

 

Review The Report of the Iraq Inquiry, Executive Summary

 

Chilcot Inquiry Sec 1.1 UK Iraq Strategy 1990 To 2000

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 1.2 UK Iraq strategy September 2000 To September 2001

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.1 Development of UK Strategy and Options On Iraq, 9/11 to Early January 2002

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.2 Development of UK Iraq Strategy and Options, January to April 2002 – “Axis of Evil” to Crawford

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.3 Development of UK Iraq Strategy and Options, April to July 2002

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.4 Development of UK Iraq Strategy and Options, Late July to 14 September 2002

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.5 Development of UK Strategy and Options September to November 2002 – Negotiation of Resolution 1441

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.6 Development of UK Strategy and Options, November 2002 to January 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.7 Development of UK Strategy and Options, 1 February to 7 March 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 3.8 Development of UK Strategy and Options, 8 to 20 March 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 4.1 Iraq WMD Assessments, Pre-July 2002

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 4.2 Iraq WMD Assessments, July to September 2002

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 4.3 Iraq WMD Assessments, October 2002 to March 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 4.4 The Search For WMD

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 5 Advice On The Legal Basis For Military Action, November 2002 To March 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 6.1 Development of the Military Options for an Invasion of Iraq

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 6.2 Military Planning For The Invasion, January to March 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 6.4 Planning and Preparation For A Post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, Mid-2001 To January 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 6.5 Planning And Preparation For A Post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, January to March 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 8: The Invasion

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 9.1 March to 22 May 2003

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 9.2 May 2003 To June 2004

 

Chilcot Inquiry Section 9.3 July 2004 To May 2005

 

No comments:

This Day In Iraqi History - Jun 16 Iraq protested border treaty with Iran by sending troops into Khuzistan province Led to 88 Iraqi soldiers being killed

  1920 UK govt decided to cancel proposed UK run provisional govt in Iraq for an Arab govt under British influence