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Monday, May 21, 2007

Iraqis taking the lead in Basrah

21 May 2007
MNF-I Press Release
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BASRAH - In an upbeat assessment General Ali Hamadi, Head of the Basrah Emergency Security Committee, has voiced his growing confidence in the Province's security situation and the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces as they assume greater security responsibility and moves towards Provincial Iraqi Control.

At a press conference held jointly with Brigadier Tim Evans MBE, Commander 19 Light Brigade, at General Hamadi's headquarters, the Provincial Joint Coordination Centre, in the centre of Basra City, General Hamadi praised the significant progress made to date, but admitted more needed to be done.

"I will not say to you there is no corruption in the police. This depends on every individual within the Iraqi Police Service deciding he wants to do good,” said General Hamadi. “It is our duty to ensure we fight all the bad elements in society. We will see this matter continue to improve."

The media event, which took place on Monday 14 May 2007, included a Tactical Support Unit capability demonstration and a visit to the centre's Operations Room, where staff from the Iraqi emergency and security agencies coordinate joint responses to incidents.

Brigadier Evans also took the opportunity to answer local journalists' questions, where he underlined the continuing commitment of Multinational Forces in southern Iraq, particularly in supporting security in Basrah Province during its successful transition to Provincial Iraqi Control.

He also appealed to the Basrawi people, saying that the region's future stability and success, now, more than ever, depended upon the Iraqi people choosing to support the lawful transition.

"The Multinational Forces have always said that we would reduce our presence once the Iraqi Security Forces began to take back responsibility for security and we are keeping our promise,” said Brigadier Evans. “The time is right for the people of Basra to determine their future. They must support the Iraqi Security Forces and stop those who want to destabilise Basra."

He also explained the role that the Multinational Forces would provide following Provincial Iraqi Control.

"Reducing the Multinational Forces' presence does not mean abandoning South Eastern Iraq. We want to see Iraq succeed,” he said. “We will continue to focus on training, mentoring and, if required, provide back-up to the Iraqi Security Forces. They will provide security and we will support them."

The conference was attended by around thirty local journalists. 19 Light Brigade is nearing the end of its tour on Op TELIC 9. In six and a half months it has worked closely with the Iraqi Security Forces and seen security and living conditions improve for the Iraqi people, notably in Basra City.

In addition the Brigade has made a concerted effort in supporting the Iraqi authorities as they confront their own internal corruption; the most well known of these being the closure of the Serious Crimes Unit and the destruction of it buildings on Christmas Day 2006.

The posture of the Multinational Forces has also changed considerably, with Maysaan Province reaching Provincial Iraqi Control and in Basrah Province, the Old State Building, Shaat al Arab Hotel, Shaibah Logistics Base and Al Faw Security Base being handed over to the Iraqi authorities; all of these are significant steps towards accomplishing Provincial Iraqi Control.

Photo: General Ali Hamadi, left, and Brigadier Tim Evans speak during the press event at the Provincial Joint Coordination Centre. MOD photo by Corporal Dan Harmer, RLC.

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