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UK takes flak from Basra flare-up

When British troops pulled out of Basra last year, UK officials claimed the Iraqi military would be capable of taking over security. But critics now point to the Iraqi government’s military operation in Basra last week as evidence that the handover was premature.

“The transition of security to the Iraqi security forces was probably, in hindsight, premature in the sense that the Iraqi forces were not ready to step into the vacuum and fully take charge,” said Michele Flournoy, a former senior Pentagon official and now president of the Center for a New American Security. “I think that a vacuum developed when the British pulled back and the militias stepped in.”

The British handover to the Iraqis came at a sensitive time for the coalition since US forces were still engaged in the military “surge” which saw an additional 30,000 troops sent to Iraq. At the time, some US officers privately griped that the UK had “lost” Basra and was “cutting and running”. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee,

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