Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Another base bites the dust, or "Second verse, same as the first."

I'm sure many of you remember my recent post about the looting of a British base in Iraq, Camp Smitty, shortly after it was turned over to the Iraqis.  

Well, just the other day, British forces decided to leave another base of theirs, Camp Abu Naji, located in Amarah in Southern Iraq. British military spokesman Major Charlie Burbridge used the occasion to float a story to Reuters, promoting their new, bold tactics, making it clear that they weren't leaving Amarah because of the constant shelling, but instead, in order to patrol directly along the Iraqi border with Iran.

The British military obviously did not want to see a repeat of what happened at Camp Smitty, so they made a point of having Iraqi troops on hand to protect the base, and made a point of stressing that the British had not yet handed over complete control to the Iraqis

Well, looks like that didn't work out so well. 

Reportedly, when the news spread of the British "redeployment", wild celebrations broke out in Amarah among supporters of Moqtada al Sadr. Shortly thereafter, there were reports of soldiers firing warning shots to disperse a mob that gathered at the base, initially turning it back. Later, however, the mob returned, with several members of the crowd reportedly armed. At this point, the base was overrun and looted, with British and Iraqi troops standing by, unable to stop it from happening.

"There are only a few soldiers at Abu Naji camp. Some of the residents were carrying weapons so they (the soldiers) did not want bloodshed and with such a big number, they cannot stop them," said Dhaffar Jabbar, spokesman for the Maysan governor's office.

"Everything that could be carried was taken," said an Iraqi army major in Amarah, who asked not to be named. Items taken included furniture, generators, wooden doors, corrugated metal roofs and just about anything else that could be resold, the major said. 

The scene at Camp Abu Naji was one of devastation, witnesses said, as the pillagers, some hoisting photos of Moqtada Sadr, roamed the base that once hosted the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and, more recently, the Queen's Royal Hussars. Some looters continued to ransack the base, taunting the remaining guards by saying, "Shoot me!" 

They then burned what remained of the facility.  

One of the looters told a reporter that the goods from the camp are the "spoils of war and we are allowed to take them." He ran away without identifying himself. 

Supporters of Sadr, whose militia forces have frequently clashed with the British, said the troops had been chased out. The camp had suffered numerous mortar strikes in recent days, attacks widely believed linked to Sadr's Al Mahdi militia. The base was hit by 17 mortar rounds the day before the pull-out, wounding a British soldier.

Iraqi authorities complained the British withdrawal had caught them unaware, without enough time to secure the base.

"British forces evacuated the military headquarters without coordination with the Iraqi forces," Jabbar said Thursday.

But the British military rejected the assertion, saying the hand-over was coordinated with Amarah authorities 24 hours in advance.

So... how long until it's the Green Zone's turn, I wonder?!


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