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Report from British-Occupied Basra - 1 soldier 'definately killed' by resistance

Ewa in Basra | 24.11.2003 17:40 | Anti-militarism | Repression

A shattered soldier, Palestinian Basra, schools set to explode, the Occupation Fever and Brit exec gets death-threat...

This week in British Occupied Basra

Wednesday November 19 a credible witness reported that at 10.30am a
British Army jeep was blown up by a roadside bomb on the road to Zafwan,
near the Basra Health Governorate. He reported seeing soldiers injured,
with one definitely killed as his head injuries were too severe to
warrant survival. He was convinced of that, pointedly and still-shocked
by what he saw, describing the soldiers head as smashed through the
temple. This witness showed me the damage to his car caused by the attack
(the force of the explosion blew off his inside rear-view mirror). Local
television reported the attack, mentioning injuries but failing to report
any deaths. Perhaps the British will release the news, quickly, quietly,
in a weeks time, like before, hoping the facts will sink unheld through
the daily quagmire of American deaths, CPA outrages, urban guerrilla war
manouvres, and the blunders, bribes and inefficacy of the national puppet
show, the Governing Council.

On the same day, a Syrian woman was arrested by Iraqi police outside the
Iraqi Port Authority in Maqal. She was found to be in possession of a
detonator. It is suspected that another individual was set to arrive with
the actual incendiary device shortly. Security at the IPA is now so tight
that all electric equipment (cameras, mobile phones) and IDs are
confiscated at the front desk and female security guards searching women
pour through everything, even opening lipsticks from make-up bags and pen
tops for possible devices/lethal substances.

Friday (Jerusalem Day - as decreed by the late former Iranian Shia
cleric The Ayatolla Khomeini) saw a 5000 strong demonstration in
solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Zionist Occupation,
organized by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
(SCIRI). Glossy posters and graphic bearing banners of the gold-domed Al
Aqsa mosque, Kiffaya masked fighters, stone-hurling boy heroes, the
Palestinian white, black, red and green, and the Ayatollah Khomeini –
SCIRI's spiritual-political inspiration - adorned every wall in town.
Some protesters reportedly beat themselves with iron bars and slashed
themselves in self-castigation and solidarity suffering with the
Palestinian people, similar to traditional Shia demonstrations mourning
the preventable deaths of Imams Ali and Hussein and Abbas. Iraqi police
patrolled the demonstration which remained placid. British troops did not
come anywhere near it, depriving plucky young anti-occupation kids and
resisters of all ages the opportunity to pelt them with rocks and stones,
in solidarity and identical sentiment, with those pelted upon the British
Mandate cultivated Israeli troops invading and occupying Palestinian
communities in West Bank and Gaza bantustans.

Most people I spoke to dismissed the demonstration as a typical party
prostitution of the Palestinian struggle and a SCIRI recruitment ploy.
The Palestinian struggle is admired, lauded, fetishized, adopted,
co-opted and exploited by many leaders and parties all over the world - a
win-all issue, noone but the ignorant, Zionist or propaganda-swallowing
can contest, and always wheeled out and skewed to represent whichever
political flavour of struggle is desired by whichever party in charge or
hungry for support, for radical credentials. The Palestinians are Qds
Islamic warriors, walking the Islamic path in the case of SCIRI, and
were a pan-Arab, Aqsa army of martyrs for the Iraqi Baath Party and a
crowd pleaser rant subject for Saddam's national lectures.

Last week bombs were found in Jumouriya and Jneyna boys schools, and one
in a school in Khamse Mill, according to local people. All were diffused
by British Occupation Forces.

The streets of Basra are heavily patrolled by camouflage uniformed, and
by night, balaclava wearing Iraqi police, packed into white open-air
trucks, 5 in the back, each holding up heavy arms. They all look like
frustrated ex-military men, and they probably all are. Scattered
kalishnikov (Iraqi kalishnikovs, field battle weapons, have a firing
range of 1 km, not what you wanna be firing around a densely populated
area!) and hangun fire can be heard downtown every night. Bullets have
bounced off vehicles as shoppers mull over autumn harvest vegetables.

Fijian Occuaption Forces patrol the streets in the same white pick-ups as
the Iraqi cops, no armour plating, and no military gear except for their
uniforms, a mounted, unstable heavy gun in the back, and their own
machine guns. They look less secure than their Iraqi cohorts and are by
far the worst protected and vulnerable looking occupation troops to be
seen in the whole of Iraq.

The Brits occasionally grind up the asphalt in mini 3-man-exposed
speed-tanks and the odd dessert-coloured, light APC, but mostly stick to
Israeli-similar old Nazi-looking dark green/black Land Rovers (Land Rover
supply both the British Occupation and Israeli Occupation with military
vehicles). They ride with their doors open, guns at the ready, pointing,
tracking the receding road behind them, just like in Nablus, but here,
two stand with their upper bodies poking out of the roof hatch,
back-to-back, weapons cocked. Large Merkava-style tanks (Israeli Golan
Heights popular tanks) guard one of main sand-bagged airport bases.

Choppers thud through the sky at night, frequently circling poor
'trouble' neighbourhoods like Hayaniya. I'm told they search houses, but
only if they've heard any gunfire nearby. On the whole, people are afraid
to say anything negative at all about them, but when the subject unravels
and people relax, start to explore their own opinions, their revulsion
and defiance at the occupation becomes apparent and more outspoken. Part
of the fear comes from the fact that the British are using their
traditional colonial tactic of recycling and protecting past authorities
(used in post-Nazi Germany)and making deals with srong forces in the
region, in Basra's case, the Daawa Party. The Daawa control the streets
of Basra and hold a 'leave us alone, we'll leave you alone' relationship
with the Occupiers. A friend's husband told me many people here refer to
the the Baath dictatorship as 'a death', and the Occupation by
comparison, as 'a fever'. Still sick, but relatively, a headache to be
suffered, tolerated and if persistant, eliminated by force.

The Israelis learned how to occupy from the British. When the Brits,
Occupying Palestine, declared martial law in 1936 in response to a
six-month solid armed General Strike and general anti-occupation
insurrection, they unleashed a wave of repressive legislation and
counter-insurgence tactics, including the demolition, through explosion,
of militants' homes. 6000 people were made homeless in the city of Jaffa
when the British levelled an entire neighbourhood. Israeli Defence law
recycles and extends British Emergency Defence Laws imposed from 1936
onwards which remained on the statute books when the illegal state of
Israel was declared. For example unlimited detentions and imprisonment
without trail (Article 11) (alive and kicking in the UK itself now since
Britain derogated from the European Convention on Human Rights and
re-activated its Northern Ireland occupation policy of internment by
abolishing Habeas Corpus and imprisoning people without trial under the
new Crime, Security and Terrorism Act 2002). British Mandate Emergency
laws also allowed for the destruction of any property for any reason,
empowering the military to expel a family from their home and then
destroy that home with little more than a fee minutes notice (Article
119), expulsion of any individual living in the territories and
prohibition of their return (Article 112) and declaration of an area of
any size closed and to restrict movement in or out of that area (Article

Its no secret that US military officials have been meeting with Israeli
Occupation Force leaders since the beginning of the multinational
occupation of Iraq, consulting on house to house searches, home and tree
demolitions, checkpoint procedure and neighbourhood raids. Commanders
which participated in the attacks on Jenin refugee camp helped train US
commanders in attacking closed, tightly populated areas defended by

British authorities are consulting with the CPA on legal infrastructure,
maybe explaining the similarity of the CPA's Freedom of Assembly order to
British public order law in terms of language and intent, focusing on
multiple pickets and public assemblies, obstructing 'public
thoroughfares' etc

Back to Basra

A British businessman working for the British NGO the Recovery
Infrastructure Group, awarded a 6,700,000 pounds (approx $10m dollars)
contract for 'designing and implementing recovery and infrastructure
projects to assist the CPA in its programme of post-conflict recovery',
received a death threat , in Arabic, in the lobby of the Al Diafa Hotel,
by members of The Independent Party (Al Hizb Istiklall), in front of his
paid machine-gun wielding guard. The guard, unable to understand what was
happening stood by as party members told the businessman that if members
were not given contracts by RIG, then he would be killed.

The Hotel Diafa is home to an assortment of British reconstruction
executives, local CPA-controlled television mangers – nearly all ex- high
ranking special ops US military men, and corporate security guards. Roads
leading up to it are blocked with large concrete cubes and armed guards
flank its doors. Despite this apparent tight security, noone has their
bags searched when they enter. This could be because most of the 'Big
Fry' corporate operations mangers are locked up in the British army
compound inside the Basra Baath Republican Palace or stay outside the
country altogether in Kuwait, entering by armed convoy in the mornings
and leaving before sunset for the border. Armed exec protecting guards
and locals have told me KBR and Bechtel cars have been shot at and bombed
by insurgents a number of times, ever since the corporate invasion moved
in from the south, hot on the heels of the army, post regime fall.

For more info see

Ewa in Basra
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