‘What’s Happening In Basra?’
by Paul Smyth
Small Wars Journal Magazine

The recent Iraqi military operation in Basra has generated much speculation in media and commentary circles, but without access to classified sources it is extremely difficult to accurately judge what has been happening in Basra and why. Even attempts to draw on Iraqi sources or anonymous quotes from within the Coalition do not eradicate confused or contradictory reporting. Hence, some commentators will claim that the targets of the Iraqi security clampdown in Basra are the criminal and Iranian sponsored ‘Special Groups’ that plague the city, while others will equally assert that it is the militia followers of Moqtada Al Sadr which are being attacked in order to weaken his power base ahead of provincial elections.

Whether the subject in view is the motive behind the operation, its timing and conduct, the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the militias, the role of Iran or the relative effect the operation is having on the standing of the various protagonists, there is no consensus of opinion which reigns supreme...