Global Policy Forum

British Forces Arrest Nine Iraqis as


By Richard Norton-Taylor

October 24, 2005

British troops have seized nine Iraqis suspected of terrorist activities, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday, as officials admitted that a private poll showed a majority of Iraqis opposed the presence of foreign troops in their country. Soldiers arrested the nine men following an investigation into those "organising and conducting terrorist activities", including attacks against British troops, the army said. They were seized during searches in the al-Hartha and Hayy al-Shuhada areas of Basra on Saturday.

The army said the operation resulted in the discovery of bomb-making equipment and a number of heavy weapons. It insisted it was in accordance with UN security council resolution 1546 that required coalition forces to "conduct security and stabilisation operations in support of the political process".

The poll, commissioned by British officers, reveals that 65% of Iraqis in the British-controlled Maysan province, in south-eastern Iraq, believe attacks against UK and US troops are justified, compared with 45% elsewhere in the country. Carried out by an Iraqi research body, the poll also said that 82% of Iraqis were "strongly opposed" to the presence of foreign troops and less than 1% believed the troops were responsible for improvement in security. Forty-three percent believed conditions for peace and security had worsened. "They are not very good figures," a senior defence official commented yesterday. The figures came as British commanders are becoming anxious about the reliability of the Iraqi police and security forces they are training and concerned about the vulnerability of their troops.

Defence officials confirmed yesterday that Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Henderson, commander of 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards now in Basra, has decided to resign from the army. He is believed to have expressed concern about the lack of armoured vehicles for British troops in southern Iraq. One of his sergeants, Christian Hickey, died in a roadside bombing last week. The Ministry of Defence said yesterday that Lt Col Henderson had opted for early retirement but the decision was taken some time ago and had nothing to do with Iraq.

Faced with roadside bombs made, British officials say, with the help of Iranian expertise British soldiers are patrolling or travelling in armoured personnel carriers or helicopters. This is placing even more strain on the equipment budget. Army commanders also admit that Iraq is a factor in recruitment and retention problems.

More Information on Iraq
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More Information on Occupation and Rule in Iraq


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