Resistance comes to Basra
At least 30 people have been killed in three attacks on police stations in Basra.
This isn't good. The different approach of the British (not treating the Iraqis like conquered subject peoples or untermenchen) has made southern Iraq practically a different country from the rest of the place - relatively peaceful, with demonstrations (albeit sometimes violent) rather than ambushes and bombings. It's been far closer to the way people hoped the occupation would go at the beginning, rather than the clusterfuck the Americans have turned the rest of the country into. Here's hoping it stays that way.
And if it doesn't stay that way? I'll let the British army speak for themselves here:
[T]he commander of British troops in southern Iraq, Brig Nick Carter, admitted that he would be powerless to prevent the overthrow of Coalition forces if the Shia majority in Basra rose up in rebellion. Brig Carter, of the 20 Armoured Brigade, who has been in Iraq for four months, said British forces would stay in Basra with the consent of local Shia leaders, or not at all.
"A crowd of 150,000 people at the gates of this barracks would be the end of this, as far as I'm concerned," Brig Carter said. "There would be absolutely nothing I could do about that."
Unlike the Americans, the British are not willing to perpetrate a massacre, or kill Iraqis in order to "save" them. They recognise that that would obviously and grossly contradict the premise of the occupation - helping Iraqis - and destroy any hope of achieving any semblance of its stated political objectives. They also recognise that their continued presence is entirely dependent on the goodwill of local Shi'a leaders:
"The moment that Sayid Ali [Ayatollah Sistani's local representative] says, 'We don't want the Coalition here', we might as well go home," Brig Carter said.
And we might as well go with them.