Sunday, March 23, 2003

The Basra reversal.
Being a television veteran of the second Gulf War of 1991, I can guess how much crap goes up on television and radio, before the information is denied or contradicted. The U.S. and U.K. ambitions for Basra fit into this category. Before the war started, the mainstream media cited U.S. officials to the effect that Basra would become a showcase of Iraqi resentment against the regime. The city was described as a priority target, since the television cameras would prove how opposed to Saddam the majority Shiite inhabitants of Basra were. It seemed obvious that, as in 1991, the inhabitants would revolt.

Now we learn that Basra is no longer a priority. Instead of taking the city over, American and British forces have decided to surround it, without going in. That seems to be because the Iraqis have actually fought back. So the armed forces prefer to fight in Baghdad (and hope that will make a Basra battle unnecessary), rather than enter into potentially debilitating street battles in what was thought to be a friendly city.

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