Monday, June 30, 2003
Basra: Just Another Manic Monday - 30th June 2003, 23.00

The British forces in Basra face the same problems in the South as their American counterparts around Baghdad. The local infrastructure is unable to bear the demands of the population and, after the looting, requires urgent replacement.

From April 28 to June 4, WHO recorded 73 cases of cholera in Iraq. Sixty-eight of those were in Basra -- 10 times more than WHO officials found during the same period last year.

These figures should be approached with caution since all reporting under Saddam's regime was suspect, but they do indicate that Basra is at great risk of waterborne infection. If cholera were to increase, this would be another stick with which the local population would beat the British. Even with the lack of security, the Iraqi professionals still mouth those attitudes of dependency that blame those in power rather than take responsibility for their own communities:

The British troops in charge of this southern city do not deny that there is great need to improve security. But they point out that Mr. Hussein emptied the prisons late last year. "Imagine what would happen in New York if you opened all the prisons and gave them Kalashnikovs?" said Iain Pickard, a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority here. Dr. Hassan does not accept such explanations. "I have no one to blame other than the British," he said. Asked if the shooters themselves were not to blame, he replied, "This is also because of the lack of law."

However, they are quite willing to moan and jump up and down if they don't receive their handouts. They even managed to blame the British and the Ba'athists, demonstrating a unique ability to weld conspiracies out of the most improbable associations.

Hundreds of former Iraqi soldiers angrily blocked the headquarters of British forces in this southern city Sunday after the coalition failed to pay back wages, an AFP correspondent reported. "The British forces had promised to pay our wages on Saturday, so we came but they told us to come back on Sunday. Today, they asked us to come back tomorrow, they are liars," non-commissioned officer Kazem Ayal told AFP. "There are members of the Baath party working with them to draw up lists, and we think they are doing everything to prevent the payment of our salaries," Ayal charged.

The Army handled the charge with their usual aplomb.

A British military spokesman at Basra's airport said he was unaware of a stand-off in the city, saying there was "just another demonstration."


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