According to the commander overseeing the withdrawal from Basra, that's what's been happening:
"We are engaged - or we have been engaged - effectively in a proxy war," Lt Col Patrick Sanders, commanding officer of 4th Battalion The Rifles, told the BBC.Here's a suggestion. The next time an Iranian gunboat approaches British Marines, the Marines should take them captive.
British authorities have already warned Teheran about its interference in its neighbour's affairs, particularly with regard to the smuggling of sophisticated explosives capable of penetrating armoured vehicles.
Coalition casualties have been rising in recent weeks, in part it is believed because the insurgents have access to more effective weapons. In one incident last month, three British troops died in a roadside bomb attack in Amarah, north of Basra. In another last week, 14 US marines were killed by one of the new devices near Haditha.