Bad Days in Basra : My Turbulent Time as Britain's Man in Southern Iraq, Hardback Book

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

2.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


The phonecall came from out of the blue, just when Sir Hilary Synnott was looking forward to retirement after helping steer India and Pakistan back from the verge of nuclear war. "It's about Iraq. We need a King of the South..."Bad Days in Basra" is the story of Synnott's time as Britain's most senior representative in Southern Iraq, 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 leaky outhouses which constituted Coalition HQ in Basra, Synnott had to negotiate his boss, Paul Bremer's brash indifference to what was going outside Baghdad, the indecisiveness of his London masters, and the brutal political realities of a country under occupation.Bearing witness for the first time to the chaotic fashion in which the coalition was run at the highest levels, Synnott's unique insider account is the most important primary source we yet have on how the South was lost. It offers new insights in to the style and motivations of key characters such as Bremer himself, US commander General David Petraeus and the then UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw.

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.


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Synnott attributes the mess of post-invasion Iraq to Washington, London, the Foreign Office, Bush, Blair, the Department for International Development, the US State Department, the US military, Bremer and the CPA in Baghdad, anybody, in fact, apart from a) the UK military, b) the Iraqis, c) himself and his team. Doubtless a typically biased and self-serving biography written in the most dreadful prose. Contains an abundance of phrases like "key strategic assets were actively managed by our team of international experts". Synnott complains that the FO back in London (and often the CPA in Baghdad) never read his telegrams; if they were written like this I'm not suprised. Also entirely sidesteps the larger question of whether the war should have been fought at all, because even if it shouldn't have (Synnott argues) that's still no excuse for poor administrative planing. [Sarcasm:]Yes, Hilary, if that's what you think is important. A true civil servant's book if ever there was one. Oh well, he's enjoying his pension by now.