Hvis Basra er noe å gå etter, så lover det dårlig for Iraks fremtid. Shia-militser, politiske, religiøse, kriminelle og klanbaserte slåss seg imellom om makt og penger. Totredeler av oljeeksporten skjer via Basra.
Det het at britenes myke linje ga resultater der amerikanernes tøffe virket motsatt. Men den senere tid har det raknet. Britene er i realiteten beleiret i Basra, og har mistet kontrollen. Det skjer selv om det ikke finnes al Qaida, ikke sunni-opprørere, men nesten bare shiaer der.
Three major Shiite political groups are locked in a bloody conflict that has left the city in the hands of militias and criminal gangs, whose control extends to municipal offices and neighborhood streets. The city is plagued by «the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores, together with the rise of criminal mafias that increasingly intermingle with political actors,» a recent report by the International Crisis Group said.
«The British have basically been defeated in the south,» a senior U.S. intelligence official said recently in Baghdad. They are abandoning their former headquarters at Basra Palace, where a recent official visitor from London described them as «surrounded like cowboys and Indians» by militia fighters. An airport base outside the city, where a regional U.S. Embassy office and Britain’s remaining 5,500 troops are barricaded behind building-high sandbags, has been attacked with mortars or rockets nearly 600 times over the past four months.
As it prepares to take control of Basra, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has dispatched new generals to head the army and police forces there. But the warring militias are part of factions in the government itself, including radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr — whose Mahdi Army is believed responsible for most of the recent attacks on the airport compound — as well as the Fadhila, or Islamic Virtue Party, and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the country’s largest Shiite party.
Fadhila-partiet mistet nylig oljedepartementet, og ble på toppen av det hele fratatt guvernørposten.
Befolkningen er redde for de strenge morallovene som innføres.
Sett fra Bagdad har frykten vært en borgerkrig mellom shiaer og sunnier. At det også kan tenkes en borgerkrig mellom shiaer, er en ny dyster mulighet. Sporene i Basra skremmer.
Much of Basra’s violence is «over who gets what cut from Iraq’s economic resources,» a U.S. Army strategist in Iraq said.
Igjen kan man si at oljen er en forbannelse.
As British Leave, Basra Deteriorates
Violence Rises in Shiite City Once Called a Success Story