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Last Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Basra views: British pull back
Two Basra residents explain their support for the withdrawal of British troops to the airport outside the city - and their opposition to a total withdrawal.


I am happy the British troops are leaving the centre of Basra. It's better that they are outside the city, not inside.

Basra Palace, Iraq
Iraqi forces now run the base at the Basra Palace

That way they can support the police or ordinary people if they need help. For example, in special cases like an uprising, or different parties fighting, then the British could come and protect people.

I think people living near Basra Palace will feel much better. There has been a lot of shelling nearby and many people have been injured.

I hope it will mean less noise at night.

In the summer we sleep on the roofs of houses because there is no power - so no air conditioning. It is very hot here in Basra, with a lot of humidity.

When British forces leave an area, there are fewer clashes

Military aircraft are always flying at night; planes and especially helicopters. There is so much noise we cannot sleep.

The security situation is better than two months ago. Then, there were a lot of clashes between the British forces and Sadr's men. It was dangerous even to go shopping.

Now it's better. When British forces leave an area, there are fewer clashes.

But I don't want them to go completely. The Iraqi police and army are not strong enough yet.

They don't have enough weapons and they don't know how to use the weapons they have.

The government needs to train them more, but it doesn't have the money.


The withdrawal will have no effect on the general security of the city, because the troops are not moving far. It's only 15km (seven miles) away.

It was suggested to the British that they only patrol with the Iraqi police force, that way it looks like they are supporting the Iraqis and it doesn't upset people so much.

If they leave now, or in the next few months - that would be a defeat

When the British patrol, people's mobile telephones are disconnected within a radius of 150 yards. That's not popular; and it takes hours for the network to be restored.

After every raid carried out by the British army, there is a complaint about theft. But who do you trust when there is no witness? The householder, or the army?

I don't think the Iraqi army will be able to provide security when the British go.

Neither police nor the army are equipped with proper weapons.

No-one disputes the fact that some of the wrong people are in the security forces; people who are loyal to tribes or to parties rather than the government.

But even if they had the right people, they could not match the power of the militia.

It has been important that the British have been here - important that they were ready to help.

I think they should stay until routine government business is in working order. Then we could ask them to leave and they would go with honour.

If they leave now, or in the next few months - that would be a defeat. That would mean they leave the country in a mess.

Ahmed lives in Basra but he was interviewed in London, where he is currently staying.

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