Michael Hayden, the CIA director, gave a characteristically candid assessment of Basra on Sunday that is bound to make British ministers and officials wince. The remarks blow a Basra size hole through any pretence that Britain handed over a city that Iraqi authorities were in any position to run.
He said 70 per cent of Basra is “controlled by militia, armed gangs, criminal elements”, adding that it was “a real stew down there”. In his view the reduction in violence — which underpinned Gordon Brown’s justification for the handover — was little more than a temporary stand-off between the armed factions. He finished his answer with this scathing quote: “I don’t think anyone could think that that equilibrium was an acceptable long-term solution.” Read more