When the history of the Iraq War fiasco is written, this little episode will rate a mention:
[British troops] withdrew from Camp Abu Naji near Amara. They only gave the Iraqis one day notice. This short notice suggests that the evacuation was done under considerable duress; one suspects that the British position was becoming untenable because of repeated Shiite guerrilla attacks (there were only 1200 British troops there). When they left, they left behind nearly $300,000 in equipment, intending that the Iraqi police should have the use of the base.Via Informed Comment.
Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers on the provincial Governing Council crowed that the Mahdi Army was the first Iraqi group to force a substantial withdrawal of Coalition troops from an Iraqi territory, according to Amit Paley. The LA Times says that the Mahdi Army boasted of having forced the British troops to leave so abruptly.
While a small contingent of Iraqi security forces (mainly recruited from the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army) was on the base, they professed themselves helpless when some 5000 looters, some armed with AK 47 machine guns, showed up to strip it bare. The poor British officer corps was reduced to maintaining that the camp had been kept in perfectly good order on their departure. God, they must hate Blair.