Deja vu

History has a nasty habit of repeating itself.
clipped from www.timesonline.co.uk

Invasion, bombs, gas – we’ve been here before

An attempt by a British force in 1915 to topple the regime in Baghdad ended in disaster. Our correspondent hopes there will be no parallels this time

Even when regime change is finally brought about, the Iraqi people rise in rebellion and are cowed only by a ferocious aerial bombardment. There is talk of chemical weapons and the occupation drags on, draining blood and treasure, year after year.

This may sound like Tony Blair’s nightmare, the worst-case scenario of the looming conflict. In fact, it is the story of Britain’s first invasion of Iraq and provides an uncomfortable echo of the events unfolding today.

British forces landed at Basra in November 1914 to protect the Persian oilfields against the Turks and their German allies. “I do not care under what system we keep the oil,” Arthur James Balfour, the Foreign Secretary, would declare. “But I am quite clear it is all-important.”

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