September 28, 2005 10:57 pm
The British army’s attack on a Basra jail to break out two of its soldiers was all over the news last week.
There have been suggestions that the captive soldiers were actually undercover SAS men. Furthermore, their car was laden with explosives, leading the Iraqi police to suspect that their captives’ intentions were less than benign.
Is this just another crazy rumor from the much-maligned Arab street? Here’s M. J. Akbar — no conspiracy nut he — on the incident.
Do you recall that:
A: The British soldiers were disguised as Arabs?
B: That there was a substantial cache of arms in the car they were driving?
C: That, when questioned, they refused to show their documents to the police (which, of course, might have ended the whole fracas before it blew up into a crisis)?
D: That the Iraqi police were only doing their duty: it is their job to stop cars being driven by “Arabs” who look suspect (the British disguise may not have been totally clever)?
E: That no explanation has been given by the British authorities as to the nature of this undercover operation; nor has the press probed to find out, although soldiers have been given permission to grant interviews to convey their side of the story?
F: That the British soldiers shot and killed an Iraqi police officer who was doing his duty, and that this murder was unprovoked since there are no reports of the Iraqi policemen opening fire on the disguised British soldiers?
G: That the initial attempt to suggest that the arrested soldiers were handed over to some dreaded militia (very useful, that Moqtada al-Sadr) was quietly forgotten after it had served the purpose of muddying the sand, to reposition a phrase?
H: That the British blasted open the jail in which the soldiers were held, and in the process permitted over a hundred prisoners at the very least to escape, doubtless strengthening the insurgents thereby?
I: That the justification offered for this illegal invasion of a country’s prison was that “75%” of the Iraqi police had become loyal to anti-Occupation militias, and therefore could not be trusted with the lives of British soldiers? And that if it is indeed true that 75% of those who are meant to fight alongside the British forces in Basra have turned, then Britain and America are arming, training, feeding and building a force in which 75% are ready to turn their weapons against the British and Americans. Even Vietnam cannot boast of a somersault at such speed. I quote from a conservative British newspaper, reporting from Basra: “The two men were held in a building belonging to the shadowy internal affairs department.” Hullo. The official internal affairs department of the Iraqi government in Basra has become “shadowy”? Where’s the light then, Brother Blair?
J: That, by the rules laid by George Bush, who has said that anyone not in uniform is an illegal combatant and therefore not entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention, the two British soldiers could not claim the status of prisoners of war? [link]