Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Unconfirmed Report

A "popular civilian uprising" is reported to be taking place in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, according to British military intelligence officials. A spokesman in Kuwait has said there appeared to be some form of civilian revolt taking place, but as yet there is no independent confirmation of the report.

Perhaps there has been no such uprising. But there should be. The British have held off demolishing the city - but the Iraqi government forces the British hand by hiding its men and "assets" among civilians. As long as the British play nice, the Basra population has no particular reason to get upset. But the British have now announced to the city that it will be taken notwithstanding the Iraqi strategy - and have begun shelling.

That should concentrate the minds of the civilian population - and likely provoke a nice riot. There's nothing like the prospect of losing your life, family, business and home because of the decision of an unpopular national army to breach the Geneva accord by hiding in your garden. The residents of Baghdad should pay attention, too.


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