Raising the white flag over Basra airfield


THE rotting reality behind Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spin concerning the ‘reconfiguration’ of British troops in southern Iraq is the complete demoralisation of the British forces who remain there, at Basra Airfield.

We have asserted this many time in the past period but yesterday we had this confirmed by the British officers who anonymously ‘spilled their guts’ on this issue in the Sunday Telegraph.

In Vietnam, US forces in local areas were known to make local agreements on a local ceasefire with the National Liberation Front.

These were troops who had had enough of the war.

In Basra and also in Afghanistan, there have been ceasefire deals made with the ‘enemy’ by the leading British military officers in Helmand and Basra who acknowledged that their forces were not able to defeat the enemy.

In Basra a deal has been made with the Mahdi army that if British troops do not leave their Basra airport camp the Mahdi Army will not shell or attack the base.

Part of the deal is that any British operations outside the base can only be performed if the Mahdi army has given that operation the go-ahead.

It is not just that the British forces have had enough of a hopeless war, the point is also made that troopers are sick of opening fire on ordinary people, and of acting as some kind of ‘Robo cop’.

This means that the periodic invasions of Basra City in which troops fired on all those that fired on them and inevitably caused many civilian casualties, as well as British troops deaths had to be abandoned.

These operations became so bitterly opposed, that fixed wing and helicopter air support had to be summoned up to rescue the British forces and to allow them to collect their dead and wounded, causing yet more civilian casualties.

These operations had to be abandoned. The only alternative was to make a separate peace with the Mahdi army, which led one ex-officer to wonder ‘whether the Union Jack or the white flag should be flying over Basra.’

Well if he read yesterday’s articles he would be in no doubt that the Union Jack and the White flag have become identical in southern Iraq.

It is now crystal clear that the invasion and attempted occupation of Iraq by the US-UK armies has backfired massively.

Oil is now approaching a price of $100 a barrel along with the most basic commodities such as gas and various metals, making for a huge economic crisis for the western capitalist states.

At the same time, the stuffing has been knocked out of the UK’s officer corps, while its reserve force, the territorial army has been virtually smashed.

All the survivors of the Iraq catastrophe now face being packed off to Afghanistan, going from the frying pan into the fire, into a war that many imperialist servants, such as Paddy Ashdown have already declared to be lost.

British capitalism is emerging out of the Iraq war and occupation much weakened, with a mass of officers and soldiers due to return to Britain demoralised and blaming the bourgeois political parties and politicians for their defeats. They may well not be reliable in an emergency.

It is a law of history that defeats in wars lead to revolutions. Russia’s defeat at the hands of Japan in 1904 was followed by the 1905 Russian revolution, and the process was repeated, this time, after its defeat at the hands of Germany in 1917, with the February and October revolutions.

The British ruling class are making war on two fronts. Alongside their foreign wars they are engaged in the class war at home against the working class.

Their defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan are victories not only for the Iraqi and Afghan workers but also for the British workers who are fighting the same enemy as the Iraqi and Afghan peoples.

In fact, the defeats of British imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their consequent weakening, will hasten its overthrow in Britain, at the hands of the British working class.