January 19th, 2005


Britain's Abu Ghraib.

The British press have released a series of photographs taken by a British soldier in Basra, showing British troops using methods of torture, violence, and intimidation that rival the Abu Ghraib scandal.

The pictures are shown in their entirety behind the link below.

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To me, it appears that the pictures will have the following effects:

1> It will undoubtedly get a lot of coverage in the Arab press, which may lead to increased anti-British (and anti-occupation) sentiment, especially in the Shi'ite south. This shift in attitudes could greatly increase the risk of violence in what has been to this point one of the safer regions of Iraq. The risk could also be political -- arguably, this could further endanger the upcoming elections, as well as force Shi'ite leaders to be more public in their opposition to a continued occupation, possibly bringing to power an Iraqi leadership that wants the coalition to leave as soon as possible.

2> It will further damage the Blair administration, especially since British elections are scheduled for May. Britain's Liberal Democrat party seems poised to take advantage of disgruntled former Labour voters -- they are already presenting themselves as a populist party and as the only legitimate opposition party to the policies of Blair's government -- but can they make their message resonate with the British people?