One of the great myths of the occupation of Iraq is that, despite the problems in the rest of the country, the situation in the south around Basra has been improving because it is under the so called 'softly-softly' approach of British forces.
This myth was blown apart recently when British troops launched an assault on a prison in Basra. The images in the press which saw British troops forced to flee burning tanks after they were set alight by protesters says much about the relationship between the British army and local Iraqis.
The simple fact is that a British occupation can be just as brutal as that by the US. And recent events highlight the increasingly unstable relationship between the occupying forces and the Iraqi authorities. These events have dashed the hopes of the British government to significantly reduce their troop numbers in the near future.
The situation in Iraq goes from bad to worse for the occupying forces. Recent reports claim that $1 billion has been stolen from Iraq's defence ministry. The theft is mired in the network of corrupt ministers and other functionaries appointed by US officials. It is symptomatic of the inability of the US to rebuild the country while at the same time seeking control of the vast oil reserves.
The demand to end the war and occupation of Iraq is one that must be carried forward in the coming months with as much determination and vigour as in the past. Thousands are set to march in Britain and the US against the war as we go to press. This must be used as a springboard to build further support for the Stop the War Coalition and anti-war groups throughout the country.