Bad Days in Basra: My Time as Britain's Man in Southern Iraq

Overview

This is the story of Sir Hilary Synnott’s time as Britain’s most senior representative in Southern Iraq, from 2003 to 2004, trying to keep the region together as the rest of the country descended in to murderous violence. By turns wryly comic, revealing and heart-breaking, it offers a never seen before glimpse in to the high politics of the occupation. Shuttling between the gilded palaces of the Green Zone and the Coalition HQ in Basra, Synnott had to deal with his American counterpart Paul Bremer's brash ...

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Overview

This is the story of Sir Hilary Synnott’s time as Britain’s most senior representative in Southern Iraq, from 2003 to 2004, trying to keep the region together as the rest of the country descended in to murderous violence. By turns wryly comic, revealing and heart-breaking, it offers a never seen before glimpse in to the high politics of the occupation. Shuttling between the gilded palaces of the Green Zone and the Coalition HQ in Basra, Synnott had to deal with his American counterpart Paul Bremer's brash indifference to what was going on in the South, the fickleness of his London masters, who could never make up their minds, and the brutal political realities of a country under occupation. Bearing witness for first time to the chaotic fashion in which the coalition was run and the disastrous impact of its policies, Synnott's unique insider account is the most important primary source yet on how Southern Iraq spun out of control. It is also an entertaining and witty portrait of the absurdities of life inside the occupying coalition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A compelling picture of the administrative turmoil after Saddam Hussein was ousted. Hilary Synnott was one of a number of resourceful, determined individuals trying to make order out of chaos in the country, and this book gives an illuminating insight into the role of the British contingent in the South-East and its tussles with the centre in Baghdad. Whether you want to enjoy the tragi-comedy of the story or learn the telling lessons from the mistakes, you can have confidence in this shrewd, balanced and authentic account."- Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former Prime Ministerial Envoy to Iraq

"Unusual, powerful: combining Synnott's experience on the ground with an unusual grasp of what was happening in Washington, London and Baghdad.Clear-eyed, comprehensive, informed by long experience, sensitive to the serious limitations of state-building in the modern age. His voice is at once bold, pragmatic and often very funny" - Rory Stewart, author of Occupational Hazards

"Hilary Synnott was one of the most important players in post 2003 Iraq. He has always chosen to keep a low profile - it is of immense benefit to everyone who cares about Iraq, and the truth about the occupation, that he has finally decided to offer up his testimony, which will be authoritative, and devastating" - Toby Dodge, Queen Mary's College, University of London

''Synnott’s unique insider account is the most important primary source we yet have on how the South was lost…it provides an entertaining and witty portrait of the absurdities of life inside the occupying coalition, a devastating critique of CPA policies and controversial revelations about the real relationship between the two occupying powers, Britain and America.''—Abrar

"Hilary Synnott's ambassadorial account of Bad Days in Basra makes a compelling read." —Glasgow Herald

"Hilary Synnott's very readable book explains what went wrong in the areas of reconstruction and governance in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saddam and provides useful lessons for how to do it better next … Highly recommended." —The Navel Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845117061
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Edition description: Revised and Updated
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Hilary Synnott was the Coalition Provisional Authority's Regional Coordinator for Southern Iraq from July 2003 until January 2004, working alongside his US counterpart Paul Bremer. Before then he was British High Commissioner in Pakistan from 2000 until 2003, in which role he helped broker the resolution to the India-Pakistan nuclear stand-off of 2002. He has appeared in numerous documentaries about the Iraq war. He lives in West Sussex, England.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements     vi
List of Plates     viii
Acronyms     ix
Prologue     x
Map of Iraq     xvi
The Assignment
'It's a Bloody Mess'     3
How it all Started     15
Arrival     22
Baghdad: The Green Zone     35
Adapting to Ground Reality     52
Facts on the Ground
Life in the Provinces: Basra, Al Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Maysan     75
Bugs and Bodyguards     104
A Tower of Babel? The Challenges and Delights of Multinational Operations     119
Civvies and Soldiers: A 'Ticket Out'?     131
Efforts and Failures
Plans are Nothing     153
Promoting Security and the Rule of Law     180
Repairing the Wreckage: The Realities of Reconstruction     204
Big-Picture Politics     241
Epilogue     249
CPA (South): Its Role and Purpose     263
The CPA Vision Document (Extract)     270
CPA Organisation Chart     277
Selected Bibliography     278
Index     280
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