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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007, 13:01 GMT
Basra residents consider security
Three Basra residents discuss their hopes and worries about security, as British forces hand over the province to Iraqis.


When our brother got kidnapped in November, we went to the police with the phone number of the people who had demanded a ransom.

For the entire month that our brother was held, we didn't get a single call or visit from the police to ask about it.

That's the biggest problem - the Iraqi security forces don't believe in what they do.

Military training in Basra
British and Iraqi army soldiers train at al-Shuaiba military base in Basra

I think the army attracts a better sort of person, but many of the Iraqi police are just there for the money. They are loyal to their party and the militias, not to public security.

If a policeman challenges a criminal, the criminal's clan will come after him. There's no law to protect him, so he's scared of doing his job properly.

For this reason, I don't welcome the handover by British troops.

My brother-in-law thinks differently. He works for SCIRI [one of the two main Iraqi Shia parties] - much to my father's displeasure - and he welcomes the British going. He thinks the Iraqi forces can handle themselves.

In Saddam's time the Ma'adan [the Iraqi Marsh Arabs] kept to the marshes and didn't venture out. Now the Mehdi army relies on them a lot and they rule the street. They are generally very uneducated. People resent their power.

If things carry on this way after the British troops leave, we're headed for disaster.

Raad's brother was released after the family paid a ransom.


The Iraqi forces are perfectly capable of protecting security and enforcing law and order in Basra, especially now that we have a new chief of police who is loyal to the country and does not have party loyalties.

Security is improving day by day

I am really pleased that Iraqi forces will be taking over Basra.

Foreign troops, even if they are friendly and well-behaved, are foreign to the fabric of our society.

We accepted foreign troops to rid us of the tyrant, but now that we are rid of him, our troops should be in control.

Being a civil servant, I sometimes deal with the British troops who come to my office, and they deal with us in a friendly manner.

Security in Basra now is much better than 2003, and it is improving day by day.



I think the Iraqi troops will be able to maintain security in Basra, providing they are loyal to Iraq and not to any party or sect.

I think British troops deal with Iraqis better than we do ourselves

There must be thorough checks and rigorous criteria when choosing who can join the Iraqi security forces.

Because I worry about Iraqi troops' party loyalties, I cannot say if I think they'll be successful right now. I hope they will be up to the job.

I have seen British troops at work in Basra. I think the British troops deal with Iraqis in a better way than Iraqis do themselves.

This is because foreign troops have no allegiance to any party, so they treat us all equally, unlike us Iraqis who deal with one another on sectarian grounds.

Compared to 2003, security in Basra is improving slowly. People say Basra is the safest place in Iraq, but they are measuring it against the general situation, not against what security should be like.


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