BASRA, Iraq — British forces signed a memorandum on Sunday formally surrendering their lead role in providing security for Iraq’s most economically important province. Oil-rich Basra, home to Iraq’s only two seaports, is the last of four formerly British-occupied provinces to return to Iraqi control.
“It’s in your hands now,” Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie said, addressing Basra’s security forces.
The handover means a reduced role for the 4,500 British troops concentrated at Basra’s international airport outside the city. The dwindling U.K. contingent will leave its compound only when asked to do so by the Iraqi government. “We are guests in your country, and we will behave like it,” Maj. Gen. Graham Binns said at Sunday’s ceremony, which took place in the airport’s departure lounge — an unintended bit of symbolism that did not go unnoticed by the Western and Iraq dignitaries and journalists who attended.
Read on at World Politics Review.