“Often, events told a different story: for example when that angry crowd set alight a soldier as he scrambled out of his armoured vehicle – the single best known image of the British in Basra – and not one of the city’s 20,000 police came to help.”
As I recall this was after two SAS soldiers dressed in Arab civilian clothing were stopped at a police check point. They killed a policeman but failed to escape, were arrested and the car was found to be full of weapons and explosives. Sounds to me like Black Ops, they were probably going to conduct a terrorist attack at a local religious festival that was on the same day, to heighten sectarian rivalries, the old British “divide and conquer.”
The British Army then attacked the police station to free them during which a civilian threw a petrol bomb on the tank.
All of this goes down Orwell’s memory hole and we are expected to wonder why “not one of the city’s 20,000 police came to help.”
Also a lesser point this sentence is misleading “set alight a soldier as he scrambled out of his armoured vehicle.” Wasn’t the tank set on fire, the petrol and flames leaked inside and the soldier then scrambled out? In this report it sounds like he was set on fire while scambling to safety. Scrambling to safety after attack an Iraqi police station, violating the sovereignty of Iraq and its people.
Its revealing what a mess we have made in that country “for ordinary Basrawis conditions are simply dreadful. Forty-two women have been murdered over the past three months for wearing make-up, or failing to wear the hejab, the Islamic headscarf.”