Did British Troops Commit War Crimes in Iraq?

Last updated on February 17th, 2019

It is feared that the truth about what really happened in Iraq, regarding the British forces, may never be revealed. American forces came under huge scrutiny with the Blackwater and the Abu Ghraib scandals, but the British forces have remained largely untouched.

Is it time for the truth to come out? Many think so. It is thought that the British government has still not addressed the problems of the past, looked at how and why it happened and have done little to make changes.

So what went wrong in Iraq? The British government did set up a team, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) that was to investigate alleged abuse committed against Iraqi civilians. However,  IHAT never really formed, and today, though the allegations remain, no answers have been given.

We do know that the British army allowed soldiers to shoot civilians, who were unarmed and suspected of workings against the British. Also, the British army played a role in Basra, which resulted in many civilian deaths. 

Under the Middle East Eye (MEE) investigations, the British forces were accused of breaching the Geneva Convention. The British forces made a deal with the al-Madhi army that ensured Iraqi attacks on the UK forces in Basra stopped, allowing the city to be handed over to the militia. This was in 2007 and by 2009; Britain had ended its operations in Iraq. The British forces were given permission to shoot ‘spotters’, unarmed and without proof.

The shooting of spotters is just one of the allegations, but a serious one that was described as a ‘killing spree’ by a British soldier. Other allegations included sleep deprivation, food deprivation, white noise and hooding when dealing with Iraqi prisoners. 

IHAT failed in in looking at individuals who were accused of misconduct. The team did not look at the failures of the British army, which included faulty training and ambiguous messages to the soldiers. It seems that while the world was focusing on ending the Iraqi war and dismantling Saddam Hussein, certain armies behavior was completely ignored..

The world was shocked when the Abu Ghraib misconduct came into light. With IHAT itself being under scrutiny and inefficiency, it appears that the British Army may well have gotten away with many injustices, and not learned from past behavior.

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