Iraqis Take Over Basrah Division

** This news from Friday may help explain the reports this week of British troop reductions in southern Iraq.

A member of the British Royal Marines from the 539 Assault Squadron (R) talks to a member of the Iraqi Coast Guard before conducting a side-by-side patrol as part of Operation Troy in the waterways of Basra, 550 km (340 miles) south of Baghdad, February 15, 2007. Picture taken February 15, 2007. (REUTERS/British Royal Marines)

Haider Ajina passes on this good news from southern Iraq:
The following is press release from the Multi-National force HQ in Iraq.

Basrah IA division transfers to Iraqi command
Friday, 23 February 2007

BASRAH — The Iraqi Army division based in Basra has transferred from Coalition command, and is now – for the first time – taking its orders direct from an Iraqi headquarters in Baghdad. The transfer is a significant step toward Iraqi forces taking responsibility for security in the city.

The milestone agreement was formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Major General Jonathan Shaw, General Officer Commanding Multi National Division (South East), and General Abdul Lateef Thu’ban, Commander of 10 Iraqi Army Division.
“Today marks another important milestone on the road to Iraqi self-reliance. 10 Iraqi Army Division have made impressive progress in recent months,” Shaw said. “I am delighted to be signing this Memorandum of Understanding with General Lateef, Commanding General 10 Division, setting out how we will continue to support him and his soldiers to deliver security to all the citizens of South East Iraq.”

Under the terms of the MOU, which defines the coordination, cooperation and responsibilities agreed between 10 IA Div and MND (SE), Iraqi soldiers will take more of a lead on security operations, whilst Multi National Forces move to a more supporting role.

The new arrangements were used in full during last week’s Operation Troy – a successful security crackdown which saw the reinforcing and closure of border crossing points between Iran and Iraq.

Iraqi-American Haider Ajina comments:

Iraq’s second largest city and southern Iraq’s most populace province is gradually coming under full Iraqi control. The coalition forces training and equipment supply to the Iraqis is bringing us closer to our goal of having a more secure and stable Iraq, under Iraqi control.

Four provinces are under full provincial control already they are Muthena, Meisan, Nejaf and Dhi Qar. When Basra joins them all Iraqi southern provinces but one (Qadesiah province) will be under Iraqi provincial control.

Basra is Iraq’s port city and the province has Iran as its eastern border and Kuwait as its southern border. This presents a difficult challenge. Not only do they have to maintain their own security they have to deal with the border influence. Much trade and traffic comes from both Kuwait & Iran.

Since Iraq has a free economy, there are no restrictions on trade with either country. The free economy, and low taxes and tariffs, has obviously contributed positively to the economic growth of Iraq and its neighbors, in spite of the terrorist activities.

Jobless numbers are declining in Iraq as well as Iraqi buying power is increasing. This is evident by observing the increase of 500 percent the number of cars in the last 3 years. Commence in Iraq especially in Kurdistan and the south is booming. Baghdad has experienced tremendous growth in economic activity in spite of the violence. This is evident by the increase of the prices of real estate in Baghdad many hundreds percent.

Average wages have also increased at similar pace. Health care and electricity in most of the provinces has much improved and is better than it was under Saddam. Medicines are readily available and affordable. These were always in short supply under Saddam’s rule.

Regards,
Haider Ajina

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