Reid defends UK troops' role in Iraq

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Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"


The defence secretary, John Reid, today defended the role of British forces in Iraq following a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari.
Mr Reid also denied there had been a breakdown of trust between the British and Iraqi governments following Monday's raid on the Jamiat prison in Basra.
British tanks blasted a hole in the prison wall to release two SAS soldiers later found in the hands of Iraqi militias. Iraqis pelted British tanks with stones and petrol bombs.
However, despite demonstrations on the streets of Basra today to demand the withdrawal of Britain's 8,500 troops from the region, Mr Reid promised they would remain until democracy was established.
"Progress has been made, but progress is not inevitable," he said.
"Democracy does not come easily and freedom has to be won, often in defiance of those whose only objective is dictatorship and whose only strategy is terrorism."
Mr Jaafari said Monday's "regrettable incident" would need to be further investigated, but added: "These things are expected to happen, and they will not affect the relationship between Iraq and Britain."
The prison breakout has strained relations between British troops and Basra residents, and has also underlined the infiltration of Iraq's security services by militants.
It had been intended that the first British troops would start withdrawing from Iraq as soon as next month, but the Guardian today reported that military chiefs have put the plan on hold amid fears of a deteriorating security situation.
Officials in Iraq admitted the SAS men were being held by militants when they were found by British forces on Monday.
However, they added that the men had been arrested legitimately and should still face charges.
The Basra governor, Mohammed al-Waili, said the men had been in a house controlled by the Mahdi army, a private force loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
"The two British were being kept in a house controlled by militiamen when the rescue operation took place," he said.
"Police who are members of the militia group took them to a nearby house after jail authorities learned the facility was about to be stormed."
The comments were echoed by Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, who admitted the Iraqi police had been infiltrated by extremists but said the jail attack was neverthetheless a "violation of Iraqi sovereignty".
"Our Iraqi security forces in general, and these in particular and in many parts of Iraq ... I have to admit that they have been penetrated by some of the insurgents, some of the terrorists as well," he told Newsnight.
Iraqi police initially claimed the soldiers had been arrested after an exchange of fire at a checkpoint in which at least one Iraqi officer was killed.
However, they yesterday said the men had only been acting suspiciously and gathering information.
Colonel Bill Dunham, the chief of staff for the British-led multinational force in Basra, said efforts would be made to remove militants from the security services.
"It is something that affects the Iraqi police across Iraq as a whole," he told the BBC. "We are aware of rogue elements in the Iraqi police service.
"The trick that we have to pull off now with the Iraqi authorities is to identify those elements, to weed them out and to reinforce the good parts of the Iraqi police service."
Officials in Basra, who refused to be named in fear of their lives, said at least 60% of the police force in the city was made up of Shia militiamen from the Mahdi Army, the Badr Brigade, and the smaller grouping of Hezbollah in Iraq.
The Badr Brigade is the powerful military wing of Iraq's largest Shia party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, and has been publicly praised by the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, in recent weeks.
Earlier today, around 500 Iraqi civilians and policemen protested outside Basra's police headquarters and called for the removal of British troops and the sacking of police chief Hassan Sawadi.
"No to occupation!" the demonstrators shouted. Others carried banners condemning "British aggression" and demanding the freed soldiers be tried in an Iraqi court as "terrorists".
Some of the protesters met Mr Sawadi to demand a British apology.

blast-wysadzić, drążyć tunel (przy użyciu ładunków wybuchowych)
breakout- ucieczka z więzienia
checkpoint- punkt kontrolny; punkt kontroli granicznej
condemn- potępiać, krytykować
(in) defiance (of)- wbrew
deteriorate- pogarszać
establish- ustanawiać
facility
headquarters- kwatera główna
inevitable- nieunikniony
infiltration- infiltracja, przenikanie
initially- początkowo
insurgent- powstaniec; powstańczy
legitimately- prawnie
neverthetheless- mimo to, mimo wszystko
pelt- obrzucać
penetrate- penetrować, wdzierać się
reinforce- wzmacniać, zasilać; popierać
release- uwalniać; uwolnienie, wyswobodzenie
rogue- niegodziwość; oszustwo; oszust, przestępca
sovereignty- suwerenność
strain- napinać, nadwerężać
violation- pogwałcenie
weed (sth / sb) out- odchwaszczać; usuwać
withdrawal- wycofanie


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