Basra Turned Over to Iraq— AP Celebrates With Mookie

With today’s historic celebration, Basra becomes the last southern Iraqi province turned back over to Iraq from Great Britain.

Basra also becomes the 9th province out of 18 to be completely turned over to the Iraqi government.

So, how does the AP and Yahoo celebrate this historic event?
The only way they know how…
With a photo of radical cleric Muqtada (Mookie) al-Sadr !

Here is how the AP reports this historic event:
The radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr delivers a sermon, in a Mosque, in Kufa, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, in this Friday Sept. 22, 2006, file photo. Britain’s Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, handover of Basra province will have a limited effect on security in Iraq’s biggest oil region because rival Shiite warlords and local officials have been wielding the real power in the area. The main players in Basra and southern Iraq are the powerful Shiite entities, al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia; Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the largest Shiite political party and the Badr Brigade militia, which has largely been absorbed into the Iraqi security forces; and the Fadhila party, which also has its own fighters and a member as Basra’s governor. (AP Photo/Alaa Al-Marjani)
Absolutely shameless!

Could they have been any more pessimistic and negative if they tried?
And, is their reporting accurate?

The radical Mookie doesn’t even live in Basra Province!
His home is in Najaf.
(When he’s not hiding in Iran.)

Here is more on the actual handover celebration today:

The BBC reported that Basra has had control of the city now for a while.
It is a generally negative report unlike what Michael Yon has reported.
Reuters reported:

Britain handed over security in Basra province to Iraqi forces on Sunday, effectively marking the end of nearly five years of British control of southern Iraq.

“Today we stand at a historic juncture and a special day, one of the greatest days in the modern history of Basra,” provincial governor Mohammed Mosbah al-Waeli said at a ceremony at the last British base at an airport outside the city.

The British commander, Major-General Graham Binns, said Iraqi security forces had “proved that they are capable.”

“I came to rid Basra of its enemies but I now formally hand Basra back to its friends,” said Binns, who also led the force that captured the city from Saddam Hussein’s troops in 2003.

A scaled-down British force will remain in southern Iraq confined to its base at Basra’s airport, with a small training mission and a rapid reaction team on stand-by.

Responsibility for Iraq’s main oil export hub — the last of four provinces once controlled by Britain — will be the biggest test yet of the Baghdad government’s ability to keep the peace without troops from the United States or its main ally.

With Iraq’s second-largest city, only major port and nearly all its oil exports, Basra is more populous, wealthier and more strategically located than any of the other eight of Iraq’s 18 provinces previously placed under formal Iraqi control.

Another photo from Basra…

An Iraqi soldier plants a national flag in the ground near Basra Palace on December 15. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has hailed the transfer of security control in Basra province to Iraqi forces as “a major step forward.
“(AFP/Essam Al-Sudani)

Well done, Great Britain!
Congratulations Iraq.

Today’s not the first time the media ran bogus, negative news on Basra:
Bogus News From Basra

UPDATE: The best report on the security handover comes from the Iraqi media- Aswat Aliraq has a great recap of today’s historic events.

UPDATE 2: BG passes this on from Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal:

There are four factors in determining when to transition a province to Iraqi control: the threat, Iraqi Security Forces capability, governance, and politics. The reporting on the turnover of Basrah province addresses three of the four factors in determining PIC; yet the established press leaves out one of the most important changes of the last year.

The reporting on the transition of Basrah province to Provisional Iraqi Control (PIC) has been filled with stories on the influence of the Jaish al Mahdi (the Mahdi Army), the Badr Brigades, various militias, criminals, United Kingdom forces, and politics. But the reporting has omitted a significant development in Basrah, and a crucial element of the story: the greatly expanded Iraqi Army presence.

…In addition, the Iraqi National Police has sent two battalions of the 1st National Police Mechanized Brigade to Basrah. These forces are in addition to the Basrah based 2/IV Border Guards Brigade and the Umm Qasr-based Iraqi Marine Battalion.

All of this data is public knowledge and published. When discussing the security situation in Basrah and the transfer of provincial control, the Iraqi government’s efforts to buttress the security forces must also be mentioned to tell the full story.

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