Remember the “we’ll stand down as they stand up” strategy? It needs some work:
Iraqis looted a military base vacated by British troops and stripped it of virtually everything removable on Friday, an indication of possible future trouble for U.S.-led coalition forces hoping to hand over security gradually to the Iraqi government.
Men, some with their faces covered, ripped corrugated metal from roofs, carried off metal pipes and backed trucks into building entrances to load them with wooden planks. Many also took away doors and window frames from Camp Abu Naji.
“The British forces left Abu Naji and the locals started looting everything,” 1st Lt. Rifaat Taha Yaseen of the Iraqi Army’s 10th Division told Associated Press Television News. “They took everything from the buildings.”
The plundering was likely to embarrass the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has said that Iraqi army and police plan to take over security for all of Iraq’s provinces within the next 18 months.
Maybe the most troubling part of this incident is that the base in question is located in southern Iraq, which used to be considered relatively stable. Relatively.