BBC News & MehrNews.com – 2007-08-27 00:22:20
Troops Withdraw from Basra Base
BASRAH, Iraq (August 26, 2007) — British forces have withdrawn from a base in Basra they shared with Iraqi police – the first step in a plan to move out all troops based in the city.
Another 500 troops will now pull back from Saddam Hussein’s former palace, their only remaining base in the city.
In future, British forces will be based at an air station just outside Basra.
The MoD said Basra does not have the heavy fighting experienced in Baghdad and Iraqi forces are demonstrating that they can take the lead in the city.
The MoD said in a statement: “There had been a small presence up to now of British forces in the PJCC (Provincial Joint Coordination Centre) for the support and mentoring of Iraqi police.
“Last night these forces were moved from the PJCC in the framework of the plan for the handover of the Basra Palace to Iraqi control, though British forces currently remain at the palace base.”
Between 50 to 60 British troops and Iraqi police were based at the police headquarters, while around 500 UK service personnel remain at Basra Palace.
The overnight withdrawal led to confused reports about who now controlled the police headquarters.
The British military spokesman in Basra has dismissed reports that Shia militia men from the Mahdi Army took over the base after British forces passed control to Iraqi police last night.
Witnesses told the Associated Press the Mahdi Army emptied the building taking generators, computers, furniture and even cars.
Major Michael Shearer told the BBC News website that officers from the Multi-National Force spoke to the local Iraqi Army commander who “assured us that the PJCC is under his control and being efficiently run by the Iraqi Army. He also stated that all the equipment remains within the PJCC”.
An MoD spokesman said there was a green Shia flag flying on the building, but not the black flag associated with the Mahdi Army.
There are now about 5,500 UK troops in Iraq – mostly based at Basra Airport.
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Talabani Dismisses CIA Report on Maliki Government
TEHRAN (August 25, 2007) — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has rejected a claim by the US Central Intelligence Agency that the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government will be weakened in the coming months, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat reported on Saturday.
“The US predictions about the Maliki government are far from reality and all witness in the near future that the Maliki government will be strengthened and will get past the current problems,” the newspaper quoted Talabani as saying.
Yasin Majid, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s media adviser, has asserted that the reports issued by American institutions, whether it is the CIA, or members of Congress “are not in the interest of the political process in Iraq and merely reflect their viewpoints,” Asharq Alawsat reported.
Answering a question from Asharq Al-Awsat question about the Iraqi Government’s reaction to the recent US intelligence assessment of the situation in Iraq, Majid said: “The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is pressing ahead with the political reform process regardless of the reports from American institutions. These are these quarters’ viewpoints and the reality says something else.”
Majid pointed out that the internal vision of the political, economic, and security reforms differs from the vision of those looking at there from outside and recalled that the intelligence assessment was contrary to the White House’s response as expressed by President George W. Bush when he said the decision to change Al-Maliki “is the Iraqi people’s decision because he knows it was the Iraqi people who chose this government.”
On his part, Dr. Basim Sharif, the Iraqi parliamentarian and prominent member of the Islamic Al-Fadilah Party, said the assessment was made to justify the American forces’ failures in Iraq “and this does not mean giving an image of Al-Maliki’s government that is far from the reality.”
Meanwhile an informed source from the National Accord Front has said former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is seeking to topple the Maliki government with the support of US congressmen.
The US House of Representatives with the cooperation of Allawi are trying to convince the Iraqi lawmakers to stop supporting Maliki so that a new government will be formed, the Saudi Al-Watan newspaper said on its website.
Posted in accrodance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.