- British troops might have to stay in Iraq for up to 10
years to help local forces maintain security after the proposed hand-over
of power to the Iraqi government on 30 June, the commanding officer of
UK forces in Basra has warned.
- Brigadier Nick Carter said it could take British troops
between two and 10 years to restore long-term stability, under the authority
of an Iraqi police force acceptable to all rival factions within the country.
- "We are in cloud-cuckoo land if we think we are
going to create overnight a police force that is accountable to the population,"
the officer told The Scotsman newspaper. "We have to build solid foundations
now for the longer term."
- Yesterday, British troops were attacked by supporters
of the Shia cleric Muqtadr Sadr in the town of Amarrah. Brigadier Carter
warned that increased violence in south Iraq from militia loyal to the
rebel cleric could mushroom into a major revolt in Iraq's Shia community
if the Allies tried to seize the leader by force.
- He added: "While they [the wider Shia community]
regard Sadr as an upstart, they have some sympathy with his grievances,"
he added. "The Basra Shia will see an attack on Sadr as an attack
on the Shia overall. He is becoming a bit of a talisman figure."
- © 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=513262