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.
Sir Hilary Synnott was the British diplomat responsible for running Southern Iraq for the CPA, reporting directly to Paul Bremer. A source for many newspaper articles and documentaries about Iraq, here he goes on record for the first time about his experiences. He has had a rich and varied career. Before joining the diplomatic service he spent eleven years in the Royal Navy, including five years in submarines as a weapons electrical engineer. He has served as Deputy Head of Mission in Jordan, Deputy High Commissioner to India and High Commissioner to Pakistan, where he won much praise for his role in resolving the India-Pakistan nuclear stand-off of 2002. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the International Institute of Strategic Studies.