Armed forces in Iraq make way for the troops in suits

Tuesday, 5. May 2009     0 comment(s)
Georg Boldt
Administrative Assistant
British troops commenced their long desert trek home on the first of May, six years to the day Georg W. Bush proclaimed an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

The British withdrawal should come as a relief to many Iraqis. Invading forces are rarely met with joy and enthusiasm anywhere, especially not in a former playground of western imperial ambitions. The previous British military occupation of Iraq ended in 1947. Nevertheless, British de facto rule over Iraq remained until the Hashemite client ruler Faisal II was overthrown in 1958.

As troops are lining up to leave Basra, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and two UK Cabinet ministers are presenting new business opportunities at the Invest Iraq conference in London. Six years of war has been a heavy burden for the British government. The task that remains is to sell a country without clean water or reliable electricity to international investors. The daily news of violence and chaos combined with the falling price of oil is certainly not going to make it easy. However, the Britons are not first out of the gate in this game.

In search for guidance in the situation publishers find a sudden demand for T.E. Lawrence’s classic book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. However, the tried and tested methods to retain power and political leverage remain the same. Co-operation to provide legitimate governance and basic human necessities, as well as exploitation of sectarian divisions in order to create and maintain internal disunity, is a likely development in Basra and the rest of Iraq.

Humanitarian arguments in favour of the invasion in 1947 could not veil the British interests to control the oil supply and nor can they today. It remains to be seen if a war can set any people free and whether the coalition can come out on top of the mess they found themselves in six years ago.

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