Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Opinion (Robert Malley and Peter Harling ): A lesson in Iraqi illusion

The abandoned and decaying British theater at a former British outpost in Iraq.

Iraq is in the midst of a civil war - but before and beyond that, Iraq has become a failed state.

To imagine what Baghdad will look like after the surge, there is no need to project far into the future. Just turn to the recent past.

Between September 2006 and March 2007, British forces conducted Operation Sinbad in Basra, Iraq's second largest city. At first, there were signs of progress: diminished violence, criminality and overall chaos. But these turned out to be superficial and depressingly fleeting.

Today, political tensions once again are destabilizing the city; relentless attacks against British forces have driven them off the streets, and the southern city is under the control of militias, more powerful and less inhibited than before.

Operation Sinbad, like the surge, was premised on belief that heightened British military power would help rout militias, provide space for local leaders to rebuild the city and ultimately hand security over to newly vetted and more professional Iraqi security forces. It did nothing of the sort.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune