News he giant Rumaila oilfield, near Basra, produces a third of Iraq's oil output. The British security man allegedly at the centre of religious unrest works at a camp run by oil services group Schlumberger

At a time of tremendous religious significance for the Shia, the insensitive actions of a British security man appear to have sparked a major crisis

Brown rejects call for early Iraq war inquiry

Gordon Brown batted away demands for an early inquiry into the Iraq war today - insisting it would not be "right" until troops arrive home.

Matthew Norman: Nobody threw shoes at Brown – but his guilt is still undeniable

The Prime Minister shares in the responsibility for the crime that is Iraq

Patrick Cockburn: Our troops had few friends in Basra

Britain's long campaign in Iraq achieved almost nothing. The 46,000 UK troops who took part in the initial invasion in 2003 helped to overthrow Saddam Hussein – but this would have happened even if they had stayed at home.

Without fanfare or much thanks, Britain departs from Iraq

Five years and 10 months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Gordon Brown yesterday announced a date for Britain's final disengagement from the most bitter, controversial military involvement of recent history. He made the momentous announcement during a brief visit to the country during which the details of the withdrawal of the last remaining 4,100-strong force were settled with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

A moment for truth as Britain exits Iraq

Gordon Brown says British troops will leave Iraq by July. But after six years of occupation, 178 British deaths, as well as countless Iraqi casualties, there is growing pressure for an independent inquiry into the causes, conduct and cost of war

British troops to start Iraq pullout in March

Britain will begin withdrawing its 4,100-strong force from Iraq by the beginning of March, with almost all troops leaving within a few months, a senior defence source revealed yesterday. The Prime Minister is expected to announce the pullout that, in effect, ends the UK's engagement in one of the most controversial wars in recent times, in the Commons next January.

The Not Dead, By Simon Armitage

Originally broadcast a year ago in a Channel 4 documentary of the same name, The Not Dead is a short collection of war poems written, not in battle, but as a response to the testimonies of ex-soldiers featured in the programme. As Simon Armitage points out in his eloquent, self-effacing introduction, time is no "great healer" for people scarred by war. One of the former soldiers in the documentary is still unable to talk without crying about a jungle ambush he took part in nearly 50 years previously in Malaya.

Observations: Not quite Iraq and roll, but...

The golden days of luxury and excess for record labels and their artists may be over, but 50C heat in a war zone are officially the most dangerous conditions for recording an album ever. Indeed, a tent on the Iraqi frontline is where the pipers and drummers of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards succeeded in making the world's most dangerous CD.

Book of a lifetime: The Assemblies, By Al-Hariri of Basra

When I was a young boy growing up in rural Pakistan, my grandfather would entertain me with stories of a man called Abu Zayd. He was a rascal who roamed from place to place conning people with his wit and stunning use of language. Each story began with Abu Zayd giving an eloquent sermon in the mosque or the bazaar. "How long will you persist with your folly?" he would ask the people who gathered around him. "How long will you cheat, steal, and do and eat all those things that God has forbidden? How long will you be greedy and chase material goods?" He never failed to impress, both by his message and his oratory; some gave him money and thanked him, others he would cheat. But Abu Zayd lived a life of luxury in a cave, with his two wives, where he greedily consumed forbidden things and did exactly what he had denounced in the bazaar.

Majority of British troops to leave 'booming' Basra

The majority of British troops serving in Iraq will be withdrawn by the middle of next year because the southern port city of Basra - where they are based - is booming, it was claimed today.

Deal with Shia prisoner left Basra at mercy of gangs, colonel admits

British commanders in Iraq made an astonishing secret deal with a Shia prisoner to withdraw from Basra which left the city at the mercy of criminal gangs, one of the UK's senior military officers serving in Iraq has said.

Maj-Gen Barney White-Spunner: Very modern Major General

After the rout of the insurgents in March, the region around Basra has finally seen some stability. So, when can we pull out? Hold your horses, says the UK's returning top soldier in Iraq. The threat and the needs are changing. More than military muscle is needed. James Hanning meets... Maj-Gen Barney White-Spunner

End in sight for British troops stationed in Basra

Britain's five-year military campaign in Iraq could be over by the spring, Gordon Brown signalled yesterday as he outlined a "fundamental change of mission" for British forces to restore "normal" relations with the war-torn country. The 4,100-strong British deployment in Basra could be reduced to a few hundred troops under plans to bring relations with Iraq into line with other Middle Eastern nations such as Oman and Jordan.

Brown paves way for troop cuts in Iraq

Gordon Brown prepared the way today for significant troop cuts in Iraq next year as British forces finish their work training the Iraqi army.

Troops must stay in Iraq 'to train its forces'

Gordon Brown should abandon any hope of pulling all British troops out of Iraq before the next general election, MPs say in a report published today.

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