Thursday, July 10, 2003

The Brits in Basra and blood money. 

The Baghdad blogger, Where is Raed now writes a column for the Guardian, and from his report, it looks like the Brits have done a much better job in Basra, than the Americans in Baghdad. Maybe if we turned over the entire country to the Brits, (and kick out Halliburton in the process)...

The flip side of this decision is the way the British have dealt with the issue of Iraqis killed by the British forces by mistake. The south is very tribal. Killing someone, especially if he came from a powerful tribe, might start a chain of revenge killings unless the two tribes were to agree on some sort of compensation, ie blood money. So while we are sitting with some people in Amarah we hear the following story.

During a wedding celebration, two young men fire celebratory shots into the air. A British patrol happens to be near by, they think they have a couple of Fedayeen shooting at them. Bang bang, the Iraqis are dead.

The British take the bodies to the hospital, and after conducting an investigation they find out they were not Fedayeen, a mistake has been made. So the next day two British officers, two Iraqi lawyers and a translator go to the hospital and ask how the locals deal with this sort of thing. The concept of "Fasil" or blood money is explained to them. A couple of days later the word spreads that the British have paid 15 million Iraqi dinars in blood money to the families of the two Iraqi men. Further bloodshed was stopped. Perfect.