Basra governor Mohammed al-Waili yesterday warned the British occupiers he will break off all relations and called on Iraqis to demonstrate outside the British consulate in the southern Iraqi port city tomorrow.
The bust-up between the puppet governor and the UK occupying authorities has erupted amidst mounting tensions over the arrest and detention of five Iraqi policemen as suspected insurgents by UK troops.
Announcing tomorrow’s demonstration, an enraged Al-Waili said Basra’s provincial council and all government offices ‘will suspend all kinds of dealings with the forces at all levels if they don’t release the detainees’.
The row first erupted on Tuesday following an operation by UK and Danish troops.
Fourteen men were arrested following an increase in roadside bombings in what British officials described as a drive ‘to root out corruption in the Iraqi police service’.
Nine men were later released but five are still being detained.
In a bid to ease tensions, British army officials claimed the puppet Iraqi Interior Ministry had ordered the arrests and local officials were aware of the British-led operation.
But this has had no effect, and tensions in the city are reaching boiling point.
Several hundred angry Basra citizens demonstrated outside governor al-Waili’s office last Wednesday to demand the detainees’ release.
Last October, al-Waili said UK forces had destabilised security following the arrest of 12 Iraqis over alleged attacks against UK troops.
A month earlier, he had accused the British army of ‘aggression’ after it used tanks to rescue two British SAS soldiers held by militias.
• Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has ordered his lawyers to sue US President Bush, his Defence Secretary Rumsfeld and British Prime Minister Blair for committing war crimes, Saddam’s chief lawyer has said.
Khalil al-Dulaimi said on Thursday that Saddam wants to sue them for allegedly authorising the use of weapons such as depleted uranium artillery shells, white phosphorous, napalm and cluster bombs in Iraq.
Speaking from Jordan, al-Dulaimi said: ‘We will sue Bush, Blair and Rumsfeld in The Hague for using such weapons of mass destruction.’
No complaint has yet been filed to the International Criminal Court in The Netherlands, but al-Dulaimi said one will be presented ‘very soon’ by Saddam’s foreign defence team.
The lawyer added: ‘President Saddam intends to bring those criminals to justice for their mass killings of Iraqis in Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah and Qaim and abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.’