- There was mounting criticism of Britain's response to
the deteriorating security situation in Iraq in the wake of the ambush
in Basra that killed three Royal Military Police.
- Several leading defence experts called for more troops
to be drafted in, and a groundswell of voices calling for the entire security
operation to be put under the aegis of the UN was beginning to grow.
- Glenda Jackson, Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate,
said yesterday: "Since the official ending of the war we have reached
the 'classic guerrilla war phase'. The UN should have been in the driving
seat, the UN has experience in post-occupation operations. There has to
be an international effort in Iraq. Otherwise those who would argue that
it is a US-led occupation are going to win that argument."
- Others were insistent that, at the very least, troop
numbers are greatly increased. Yesterday a number of defence analysts warned
that the deaths of three British soldiers in Basra mark the early days
of an insurgency campaign in the south.
- Major Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies,
said: "I'm afraid [yesterday's] attack was just a matter of time.
Over the last two weeks we have seen a good indication of what is to come.
Today's deaths were predictable, as is, I'm afraid, a low-level insurgency
campaign against the occupying forces in Basra and southern Iraq in the
- "There's no way you can get away from it - it is
desperate news. Basra has been simmering for some time." He added
that more "boots" were needed on the ground. "We are going
to need a different level of security."
- Former officer and defence expert Michael Yardley said
these were not random attacks. "We were always going to see an extended
guerrilla campaign against allied forces. We know that Saddam Hussein planned
for this contingency - to resist unconventionally.
- "It has been suggested that these are random attacks
but they are more than that, although we can't be sure who is responsible
- Jihadists, remnants of Saddam Hussein's intelligence or Fedayeen militia.
You need at least half a million troops to police this country effectively,
which we do not have. Either the intelligence assessment was deficient
or George Bush and Tony Blair were willing to take an unacceptable degree
of risk in this campaign."
- Britain and the US are now seeking to increase the number
of countries contributing troops to Iraq.
- President Bush wants more countries to send troops to
participate in the occupation of Iraq, but faces resistance to any new
UN mandate without an expansion of the international body's political and
economic role in Iraq.
- A British military spokesman in Basra said yesterday
that security arrangements were"under constant review" and local
commanders would act according to perceived threats.
- He added: "Our view is that we have sufficient troops.
We have plans in place to bring in reserves should they be required. That
decision has not been made." Meanwhile, the cost in lives continues
- However one characterises the four months of sabotage,
terrorism and ambushes that have marked the "post-war" period,
the cost is growing.
- Since 1 May, 135 US troops have been killed, 64 of them
in combat, a rate of attrition which, if it continued at the present rate,
would mean that Mr Bush would be presenting himself for re-election in
November 2004 with a record of some 700 US troops dead since the war's