Iran ønsker å påføre britene et ydmykende tilbaketog fra Irak og kommer til å bruke Mahdim-militsen for alt den er verdt. Det skal se ut som om britene blir jaget ut, ikke at de trekker seg kontrollert ut, slik planen er.
Det sier Stephen Biddle, ved Council of Foreign Affairs i Washington, som er rådgiver for Bush i Irak-spørsmål. Britene skal snart forlate sitt hovedkvarter i Basra og trekke seg tilbake til flyplassen. Men der er de under stadig bombardement.
Stephen Biddle, who also advises the US commander in Iraq, said Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in the south would try to create the impression they were forcing a retreat. «They want to make it clear they have forced the British out. That means they’ll use car bombs, ambushes, RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] . . . and there will be a number of British casualties.»
The comments coincide with British military estimates that withdrawal could cost the lives of 10 to 15 soldiers.
Some British officers believe they are facing a «humiliating» retreat under fire to Kuwait or the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
«I regret to say that the Basra experience is set to become a major blunder in terms of military history,» said a senior officer. «The insurgents are calling the shots . . . and in a worst-case scenario will chase us out of southern Iraq.»
Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who advised Bush on the troop surge, said Iran would use its influence with the Shi’ite Mahdi Army to exploit the situation.
«It will be a hard withdrawal. They want the image of a British defeat . . . It will be ugly and embarrassing,» he said.
Den iranske revolusjonsgarden har 50 mann inne i Irak som driver opplæring av shia-milits i øde områder sør for Bagdad, sier en amerikansk general.
Separately, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose mission is to block the flow of weapons and fighters into the Baghdad area, said his troops are tracking about 50 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in their area — the first detailed allegation that Iranians have been training fighters within Iraq’s borders.
«We know they’re here and we target them as well,» he said, citing intelligence reports as evidence of their presence.
He declined to be more specific and said no Iranian forces have been arrested in his territory.
«We’ve got about 50 of those,» he said, referring to the Iranian forces. «They go back and forth. There’s a porous border.»
The military has stepped up allegations against Iran in recent weeks, saying it supplies militants with arms and training to attack U.S. forces. (AP)