Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report


29. At the end of "Phase I," the Prime Minister described the progress made. In Afghanistan, the terrorists' base, Kabul had fallen without serious resistance, the Taliban were in "total collapse," and "to see women and children smiling after years under one of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the world is finally to understand the true meaning of the word 'liberation.'"[31] The critics of the military campaign had been confounded: as the Foreign Secretary told us on 20 November, "Ten days ago there were still people writing that the Taliban were an unbreakable force," yet the regime which had played such an important role in supporting al Qaeda had disintegrated almost completely.[32]

30. The international coalition against terrorism had remained remarkably strong throughout the military campaign. Co-operation to fight terrorism had been stepped up considerably in the European Union. UN member states' counter-terrorism actions were being monitored by the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), which is chaired by Britain's Permanent Representative to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. The US approach to the global organization appeared to have warmed somewhat since 11 September. Crucially, too, the British Government had emerged as America's closest partner in the war against terrorism. The Prime Minister had received a standing ovation in the US Congress. The New York Times described him as America's "most passionate and steadfast ally in the fight against terrorism."[33] The British Government was at the centre of the campaign, and it appeared to be making progress.

The month after the attacks


31. Britain provided the United States with much needed moral support in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and this helped to cement the very strong relationship which has persisted between the British and US governments since 11 September. In our Report to the House on British-US Relations in December 2001, we wrote:

"Time and again in the United States we heard that the United Kingdom's prompt actions immediately after the events of 11 September were regarded by Americans not only as significant, symbolic acts of solidarity, but also as very concrete expressions of the special relationship. From the Prime Minister's private and public pronouncements, through the playing of the US National Anthem by the band of the Coldstream Guards at Buckingham Palace followed by the almost universally-observed 3 minute period of silence, to the cancellation of sporting fixtures and the thousands of expressions of solidarity by the British people at large, the United Kingdom's reaction to the acts of terror was seen as being both genuine and apposite. The very spontaneity of the reaction illustrated perfectly the instinctive nature of the relationship."[34]

32. The importance of these symbols of support should not be underestimated. However, it was the actions taken by the Government which ensured Britain's immediate and deep involvement in shaping coalition policy.


Articulation of coalition policy

33. At the beginning of the campaign, the Government set out a sound series of objectives which it made public through speeches and through two published documents. These clearly articulated objectives appear to have shaped to a significant degree the early stages of the war against terrorism. They also contributed to ensuring that the widespread support for the US in the aftermath of the attacks was translated quickly into global action against the terrorist threat.

34. In his speech to the House on 14 September, the Prime Minister emphasized three objectives which should be pursued to address the threat of terrorism. First, he argued, "we must bring to justice those responsible." Secondly, he called for the establishment of an international coalition: "this is a moment when every difference between nations" should be "put to one side in one common endeavour." Thirdly, he argued that "we need to re-think dramatically the scale and nature of the action the world takes to combat terrorism."[35]

35. The same objectives were set out in more detail in the Government's "Campaign Objectives" document, which was published on 4 October. The "overall objective" was to "eliminate terrorism as a force in international affairs." The document described immediate objectives relating to Osama bin Laden, his network, and the Taliban regime. Wider objectives were also described: the coalition would "do everything possible to eliminate the threat posed by international terrorism" and "deter states from supporting, harbouring or acting complicitly with international terrorist groups." The coalition would also aim to reintegrate Afghanistan as a "responsible member of the international community."[36] The means for achieving these objectives, both political and military, were outlined in the document.

36. Another document set out "Responsibility for the terrorist atrocities." The introduction to the document states that it "does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Usama bin Laden in a court of law... Intelligence often cannot be used evidentially... But on the basis of all the information available HMG is confident of its conclusions as expressed in this document."[37]

37. Both these documents were also posted on the FCO website in Arabic, and the "Responsibility" document was also posted in Urdu.

38. The Foreign Secretary told us that the fact that these were United Kingdom rather than US government documents "does not suggest there is a disagreement, this must not be implied because this is to misunderstand the nature of the relationship... The US, I am certain... were very happy that we should have published evidence in that way."[38] Indeed, by division of labour, it probably suited the US for the British Government to publish the evidence.[39]

39. The Foreign Secretary went on to explain that the Government had faced "difficult judgements about publishing that evidence because parts of it were drawn from intelligence though a great deal of it was historical."[40] In response to a question about the Government's intention to publish evidence in advance of possible future military action against other states, the Foreign Secretary replied that he could not give "any guarantees one way or the other"—the "good argument in terms of public support" had to be balanced against the need "to protect intelligence sources, particularly human intelligence sources."[41]

40. We conclude that the Government was right to publish the coalition "Campaign Objectives" and the document outlining "Responsibility for the terrorist atrocities." These publications went some way towards reassuring Parliament, the British public and Britain's coalition partners of why military action against Afghanistan was necessary. Our recommendation on the need to apply this approach to potential future actions is made in paragraph 233 below.

Diplomatic activity

41. The Government's energetic diplomacy in the early stages of the campaign helped to translate the outpouring of sympathy for the United States into a broad international coalition. British diplomatic initiatives also helped the Government to develop a "positive agenda of engagement with Arab countries and the Islamic world;" and helped Afghanistan, through the United Nations, to establish a "broadly based government representative of all groups in the country."[42]

42. Between 11 September and the commencement of military strikes, the Prime Minister met several European leaders and visited President Bush in the United States. He attended an emergency meeting of the Council of the European Union in Brussels. He visited Pakistan and India in early October. The Foreign Secretary held talks with Iranian, Egyptian and Israeli leaders and the Arab League.

43. Soon after the commencement of military operations, on 11 October, the Prime Minister visited Egypt. Between 30 October and 1 November, he also visited Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The FCO, in its 19 November memorandum, states that these visits were in part an effort to "reinvigorate the search for peace" in the Middle East, though they also contributed to the sense that Britain was engaging with its allies in the Islamic world during the campaign against Afghanistan.[43]

44. Between mid-October and mid-November, the Prime Minister also appointed Paul Bergne, a diplomat with experience in Central Asia, to be his "personal representative on Afghan affairs."[44] Robert Cooper, another diplomat, was appointed to represent Britain in negotiations towards the future of Afghanistan in the UN and elsewhere.[45]

45. Philip Stephens told us of other diplomatic initiatives which have been pushed forward by the Government since 11 September. He told us that both "the Prime Minister and the foreign secretary took an active part in encouraging Russia's Vladimir Putin to see the aftermath of September as an opportunity to join the mainstream of western policymaking. Elsewhere, the US administration was initially reluctant to involve the Group of Eight in the international counter-terrorism effort but at the UK's instigation it has broadened the remit of its Financial Action Task Force to include action to halt the flow of terrorist funding."[46]

46. We conclude that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were right to invest substantial time and effort overseas in helping the United States to mobilise the international coalition against terrorism.



47. On the initiative of the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, the North Atlantic Council[47] reacted to the attacks by declaring on12 September that

"If it is determined that this attack was directed from abroad against the United States, it shall be regarded as an action covered by Article V of the Washington Treaty, which states that an armed attack against one or more of the Allies in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all."[48]

This was the first time in NATO's history that its members had invoked Article V.

48. The FCO told us that Britain had "played an active role in promoting ... the NATO decision"[49] to invoke Article V. The FCO also "pushed forward the deployment of joint NATO assets such as the Standing Force in the Mediterranean and the NATO AWACS [Allied Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft]."[50] NATO AWACS aircraft were sent to patrol US airspace on 9 October in an operation code named "Eagle Assist."[51]

49. We conclude that NATO was entirely right to invoke Article V, and commend the Secretary General on his initiative in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks.

50. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought stronger links with NATO. The Prime Minister responded to this by asking the FCO to produce a paper setting out options for a new relationship with Russia, "encouraging," as Philip Stephens told us, "Russia's Vladimir Putin to see the aftermath of September as an opportunity to join the mainstream of western policymaking."[52] This paper proposed an overhaul of the relationship between NATO and Russia, including the creation of a new body, in which twenty governments (19 NATO members plus Russia) would discuss some security issues as equals. The new body would replace the Permanent Joint Council, and would reflect the "changing political atmosphere since 11 September attacks in America."[53] The paper was sent to other NATO members on 17 November, and the NATO Secretary General went to Russia on 21 November 2001 to discuss the proposals with the Russian President.

51. On 14 May 2002, agreement was reached on the establishment of a NATO-Russia Council (NRC) to replace the existing NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. This will allow NATO members and Russia to work "as equal partners in areas of common interest while preserving NATO's prerogative to act independently."[54] The agreement was adopted and signed at the NATO-Russia summit in Rome on 28 May 2002.

52. NATO did not play a significant role in the Afghanistan campaign, although established methods of joint operations and inter-operability of forces must have considerably facilitated the work of ISAF. There were press reports only two days after the attacks suggesting that NATO was "drawing up an emergency plan for a massive attack on Afghanistan if proof emerges that Osama bin Laden, the wanted Saudi-born terrorist sheltered by Afghanistan, was responsible for the attacks. Under contingency plans being prepared, an assault would involve tens of thousands of ground troops, equivalent to the scale of the force deployed in Kosovo."[55] Though military action did not ultimately involve NATO command structures, Britain was "active in encouraging a positive US response to the offer by allies, especially our European partners," of military support.[56] Such offers came from Britain's EU partners, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. Russia permitted US overflights of its territory, shared intelligence, and offered combat search and rescue support; it also assented to American proposals to use former Soviet military facilities in some of the Central Asian republics.

53. Philip Stephens told us that "Washington was initially reluctant to accept military contributions, albeit token, from other European nations and some in the Pentagon are said to have opposed even a UK contribution."[57] Maintaining the multilateral nature of the coalition is extremely important, and the military aspects of the war against terrorism are no exception to this. We commend the Government's efforts to include other countries' military contributions in the war against terrorism, and recommend that it continue to press for similar coalitions where appropriate in any future military operations.

54. NATO has played a limited military role in the war against terrorism. This may suggest a shift in the US approach to the Alliance. There are voices in the Administration who no longer perceive NATO as being as central to US security as it was only two or three years ago, but perhaps as more of a political organisation. We note, however, that the US Administration is considering the possibility of NATO setting up a number of highly mobile "mini task-forces" for deployment to troublespots.[58]

55. It is clear that the international coalition against terrorism has a great attraction to the US as an international vehicle for prosecuting US defence and foreign policy. The coalition is made up exclusively of US bilateral relationships. By working through the coalition, the US is not dependent on any international decision-making process. The command structure of the coalition is entirely US-led. It is unclear where this leaves NATO. We recommend that the FCO clarify how it sees the role of NATO in the conduct of US-led military operations against terrorists or the states that sponsor them. We further recommend that the FCO clarify NATO's role in providing and co-ordinating intelligence in the war against


The European Union

56. The European Union took action after 11 September with what the International Crisis Group described as "a pace of response almost unprecedented within the EU."[59] To ensure co-ordinated responses to the attacks, an emergency meeting of foreign ministers was convened in Brussels on 12 September. EU heads of state met on 21 September, and agreed to the introduction of a counter-terrorism Plan of Action. This included a proposal for a European arrest warrant and the adoption of an EU-wide definition of terrorism; a Framework Agreement on freezing assets and evidence; increased co-operation between services responsible for fighting terrorism; the early ratification by all member states of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism; implementation by member states of UN Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism; the review of relations with third countries in the light of their performance in combating terrorism; and the approval by the Commission of improvements to air transport security.[60] Overall, the Plan defined over sixty discrete objectives to fight terrorism, covering foreign policy, home affairs, judicial co-operation, financial and economic


57. We discussed the impact of the terrorist attacks on the EU agenda when we visited Brussels in October 2001. We were told that many of the issues that were addressed with increased urgency after the attacks, such as the common arrest warrant, had been on the EU's Justice and Home Affairs agenda for some time but had become bogged down in minor disagreements among member states. The crisis had given EU-wide legislation in these areas a huge a boost: EU member states pledged to address policies on counter-terrorism, asylum and immigration, and mutual recognition of judicial procedures before the Laeken summit at the end of 2001.

58. The crisis was seen by some as a test of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. In the first stages of the campaign, there were few if any significant differences between EU member states on how to tackle the terrorist crisis, and the consensus was that they had acted cohesively and rapidly in response to the threat. We heard during our visit to Washington in early November 2001 that the EU response to the crisis had impressed those in the Administration who have a sceptical view of Europe, many of whom, until that point, had not realised that European co-operation existed in so many areas. By November, however, the Foreign Secretary reported to us that some EU countries were not "on target" in implementing anti-terrorism measures: "There are some abstruse arguments taking place among Member States about particular aspects of the measures."[61]

59. The immediate EU response to the 11 September attacks was impressive, but progress became bogged down in the following months. Nonetheless, the habits of intergovernmental co-operation created through the EU proved valuable in this crisis. Some of the subsequent problems in reaching agreement over the action plan have been resolved under the Spanish Presidency of the EU. On 14 February 2002, the Spanish Presidency announced that political agreement had been reached on the establishment of the European arrest warrant and that all the difficulties involved in the establishment of Eurojust, an EU-wide judicial co-operation unit, had been resolved.[62] Efforts within the EU are also being made to strengthen judicial co-operation with the United States to fight terrorism.

60. We recommend that in its response to this Report the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provide a full statement on EU-wide co-operation and progress in countering terrorism.

The United Nations

61. In its memorandum to the Committee, the FCO described the United Nations as the "primary forum for building and consolidating global support" for the campaign against terrorism.[63] Britain has played an important role in establishing the UN as central to coalition-building efforts since the terrorist attacks occurred, and we believe that this has contributed substantially to the strength of the international coalition against terrorism.

62. On 11 September, Britain and France together drafted a Security Council resolution condemning "in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks." The resolution affirmed the "inherent right of individual and collective self-defence" in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, and stated that the Security Council regarded the terrorist acts as "a threat to international peace and security." It called on all states to "work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organisers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks," and expressed "readiness to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks... and to combat all forms of terrorism." This Security Council Resolution, 1368 (2001), was passed unanimously on 12 September 2001.[64]

63. By characterising the attacks as "a threat to international peace and security" and by implying that the Security Council was acting under Article 51 of the UN Charter, Resolution 1368 also gave immediate legal authorisation for military action by the United States and its allies, provided that such action was demonstrably one of self-defence against "armed attack," and provided that the action was immediately reported to the Security Council.[65] [66]

64. The United States subsequently drafted a second Resolution, number 1373, which was passed on 28 September 2001.[67] UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373 declared explicitly that the Security Council was acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter,[68] implying that the steps proposed in the Resolution imposed obligations on Member States which were binding in international law. UNSCR 1373 specified that states must prevent all financing of terrorist organisations, refrain from assisting such organisations, and find ways of enhancing counter-terrorist activity, both at a national level and through international co-operation. UNSCR 1373 also established the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), "a Committee of the Security Council, consisting of all the members of the Council, to monitor implementation of this resolution."[69]

65. We were told during our visits to New York that UNSCR 1373 was exceptional because, although it was drawn up and passed by the fifteen-member Security Council, it obliges all member states to take action. It is, therefore, equivalent to a binding treaty which no state has had the opportunity to negotiate. For this reason, it is extremely important for the success of the UN's activities against terrorism to ensure that member states regard the CTC as legitimate, important, and serving their own interests.

66. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, was elected by the Security Council as Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. As the Foreign Secretary told us, this was a "very great personal compliment to him," because it is "very unusual... for any Permanent Member of the Security Council to have their Permanent Representative made Chairman of a Security Council Committee."[70]

67. As Chairman, Sir Jeremy Greenstock moved quickly towards setting out a work plan for the Counter-Terrorism Committee. On 8 October, he outlined the steps that the CTC would take in encouraging, monitoring and advising States on their implementation of UNSCR 1373. The CTC would "assess States' implementation in so far as it would identify problem areas and examine whether there was scope for assistance to Member States to help them improve their implementation." Sir Jeremy Greenstock was clear that the "Security Council, not the CTC, would tackle any political questions on the implementation of resolution 1373."[71] The question of defining terrorism would also be avoided by the CTC: Sir Jeremy Greenstock explained in a press briefing on 19 October that "It is not the primary purpose of the Counter-Terrorism Committee to get into the politics of what is happening in the short-term. It is not the intention of the Counter-Terrorism Committee to try and solve problems that are for the General Assembly. Or to try and define terrorism, or otherwise solve some of the sensitive political issues that are directly, or indirectly attached to the fight against terrorism."[72]

68. Each member state was required to provide a report of measures towards implementation of UNSCR 1373, which would be delivered to the CTC by 27 December 2001. To assist member states in this task, in October the CTC produced written guidance for states on the information the CTC expected to be included in the reports. Member states were asked to identify counter-terrorism "contact points" in missions to the UN and in capitals. The CTC discussed the need for expert advice to assist it in analysing reports from states, and to guide the Committee on technical assistance for states.

69. We congratulate Sir Jeremy Greenstock on his appointment as Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. We conclude that the Government was right to push for a prominent UN role in the war against terrorism, and commend its work towards this end in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September attacks. We assess the work of the CTC in paragraphs 118 to 130 below.

Military action in Afghanistan

70. It was widely anticipated that after 11 September the US military reaction would be swift and extensive. After the al Qaeda terrorist strikes against US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in August 1998, the Clinton Administration had launched immediate missile attacks against the al-Shifa chemical factory in Sudan, and against suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

71. Osama bin Laden was immediately considered to be the most likely perpetrator of the 11 September attacks. Military strikes on bin Laden's terrorist network's bases in Afghanistan were expected. International humanitarian aid workers began to leave the country, and the UN High Commission for Refugees stated that, in anticipation of massive refugee flows from Afghanistan, it was putting in place the largest emergency contingency operation in its history in Pakistan. There was widespread concern about the impact of such a military campaign on the people of Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries: on 24 September, Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told Reuters television: "I say to Washington: take your time and think hard." He warned against "disproportionate military activity that is so massive it creates humanitarian misery."[73]

72. On 7 October 2001, British and American armed forces began a series of air and cruise missile attacks in Afghanistan. The attacks were launched against the terrorist camps of Osama bin Laden and the military installations of the Taliban regime. By this stage, international legal grounds for such an attack had been established through Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1373.

73. On 8 October, Parliament was recalled for the third time since 11 September. The Prime Minister pointed out in his speech to the House that the Government and the United States had decided to delay any military action for almost four weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Prime Minister paid "tribute to President Bush's statesmanship in having the patience to wait," and explained that action had been delayed for three reasons: "First, we had to establish who was responsible. Once it was clear that the al Qaeda network planned and perpetrated the attacks we then wanted to give the Taliban regime time to decide their own position: would they shield bin Laden or would they yield him up? ... thirdly, we wanted time to make sure that the targets for any action, minimised the possibility of civilian casualties."[74]

74. Without trying the diplomatic route before military action, and without the clear and public articulation of coalition objectives and of responsibility for the terrorist attacks, global support for the operation would have been much harder to establish. We were reassured to hear from Mr Paul Bergne, the Prime Minister's envoy to the United Front (also known as the Northern Alliance) during October and November 2001, that, in his view, during this four week period all diplomatic alternatives to military action had been exhausted.[75] The British and American governments, together with the government of Pakistan, expended "considerable thought" and diplomatic effort between 11 September and the beginning of October in examining "what alternative forms of pressure [to military force] there might be" to persuade the Taliban to extradite Osama bin Laden. The Pakistani government sent two delegations to Kandahar to try to persuade the Taliban to give him up, but without success.

75. We commend the efforts of British diplomats to persuade the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden after 11 September. We conclude that this was the right course of action, which helped to hold together the international coalition during the subsequent military campaign in Afghanistan.

76. Military action was taken with a remarkably high level of international endorsement. Islamic countries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in October were generally supportive of the US-led campaign. The Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxhuan referred to the anti-terrorism campaign as a "fight between justice and evil,"[76] and Russia issued strong statements of support, encouraged Central Asian states to offer the US use of military bases, and reportedly co-operated with the US on intelligence to aid the campaign in Afghanistan.[77]

77. The campaign in Afghanistan began with cruise missile attacks on al Qaeda and Taliban air defences, command and control facilities, air bases and training camps. Military vehicles were also attacked, and US aircraft destroyed defences around major cities in Afghanistan such as Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif. Taliban and al Qaeda troop concentrations were targeted later in the campaign. The US-led military campaign was made in alliance with the Northern Alliance, which had been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan throughout the late 1990s. Small numbers of special forces were used to liaise with the Northern Alliance and to help with missile guidance.

78. From the beginning, concerns were raised about the campaign in Afghanistan. Military analysts pointed to the dangers inherent in such a campaign. Afghanistan, it was noted, had in the past been a graveyard for invading armies, not least the British in the nineteenth century and the Soviet Russian army in the twentieth. The US and its allies would surely become bogged down in a fruitless campaign there for years. The Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, warned that "we must expect [military action] to go through the winter and into next summer at the very least."[78] Professor Sir Michael Howard warned in late October that trying to defeat al Qaeda through the continued bombardment of Afghanistan was like "trying to eradicate cancer cells with a blow torch."[79]

79. There was also widespread concern during October about the consequences of the campaign for the civilian population of Afghanistan. The UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called on the US-led coalition to strengthen measures to ensure that civilians were not killed as a result of military action, and expressed particular concern about the use of cluster bombs.[80] In late October, some humanitarian organisations also called for an break in the bombing campaign to ensure assistance was delivered to vulnerable communities in Afghanistan.[81]

80. By 9 November, Alliance forces had captured the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Six provinces across Northern Afghanistan fell quickly after this, as Taliban troops retreated to the east and west of the country. During the night of 12-13 November, Taliban forces evacuated the capital, Kabul.

81. We conclude that the British and American governments were vindicated in their judgments that the Taliban could be removed speedily, and with loss of life that appears to have been far lower than was predicted early in the military campaign.


82. The Foreign Secretary told us that the military alliance with local forces in Afghanistan had in general been very successful, and "one of the many remarkable things which has happened since the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif on 9th November and of Kabul a couple of days later has been the degree to which there has been relative peace within most areas of Afghanistan without there being a need for external forces. Kabul has been quiet. It has a police force, a rudimentary police force of just 1,200 people which for a population of its size is very small but it has been relatively quiet. I think having been through this terrible blood letting over the last decade the sense I get from those I have spoken to is that people understand they have got to show restraint. That is one of the things which I commend and believe the Northern Alliance has."[82]

83. However, British liaison with its Afghan allies appears to have been difficult on some occasions. Paul Bergne told us that, during his assignment in Afghanistan, he was able "to play a significant role in de-fusing the fury of the Northern Alliance leaders when the United Kingdom landed troops at Bagram [air base] without seeking their agreement."[83] Mr Bergne told us that he did not know why the British Government had not sought agreement before landing the Special Boat Service troops at Bagram; he had never received a satisfactory explanation from the FCO. Mr Bergne himself had only been informed of the troops' arrival in Afghanistan half an hour before the first aeroplane flew in, by the Northern Alliance 'foreign minister' (now Afghan foreign minister) Dr Abdullah Abdullah, who was "extremely angry."[84] The Northern Alliance were threatening to open fire on the British troops. Bergne was able to persuade Dr Abdullah to send instructions to prevent such an attack, though the British Commanding Officer at Bagram told Bergne later that the Afghans at Bagram had been "sorely tempted" to open fire on this occasion.

84. We recommend that the Government investigate the circumstances which led to the dangerous misunderstanding with Britain's allies at Bagram. We trust that measures will be taken to ensure that British personnel will not be endangered unnecessarily through such misunderstandings in future operations.

85. We also recommend that the Government investigate the extent to which the confusion and blurred lines of communication arose from the fact that Mr Bergne was appointed by the Prime Minister rather than by the FCO. Lessons need to be learned about relations between the Foreign Office and the Prime Minister's personal appointees in such circumstances.


86. On 14 November, as Northern Alliance forces entered Kabul, the Security Council adopted a British/French drafted resolution, 1378, which affirmed that UN should play a "central role in supporting the efforts of the Afghan people to establish urgently ... a new and transitional administration leading to the formation of a new government."[85]

87. The evidence suggests that the defeat of the Taliban did achieve its major objective, which was to destroy al Qaeda's support base in Afghanistan and significantly to weaken the organization. As far as is known, Osama bin Laden was not captured or killed during the campaign. There were reports as Kabul fell to Northern Alliance and international forces that many Taliban and al Qaeda leaders were fleeing to northern Pakistan. While this area is somewhat lawless, Paul Bergne told us that he did not see "any chance at all, with the present political situation in Pakistan and, indeed, in the ... former Soviet republics, of al Qaeda succeeding in building up the sort of arrangements it had in Afghanistan" in these areas.[86]

88. The fall of the Taliban was also, in Mr Bergne's judgement, a "severe blow" to terrorist organizations operating in the Ferghana Valley, to the terrorist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, although such organizations would not be destroyed by the changes in Afghanistan. They would continue to have large numbers of sympathizers, because governments in many of the Central Asian republics are seen by political Islamists as "oppressive, inefficient, corrupt and anti-Islamic" and the region is "fertile ground for that version of political Islam."[87] Bergne warned us that the governments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were both vulnerable to Islamic revolution, in part because of the widespread poverty of these countries, the failure of their governments to deal with economic problems, and the oppression of legitimate forms of dissent.

89. The stability of Central Asia is of crucial importance to the success of the campaign against terrorism. The Government explained to us that it would focus on poverty reduction to help remove "the conditions which enable terrorists to recruit and win support," through "greater co-ordination with EU, US, international financial institutions and other partners" and "more collaboration between the multilateral organisations."[88] Mr Stephen Wright, Director of Security Policy, FCO, also told us on 5 December that the FCO "before the 11 September had an intention to open an Embassy in Bishkek [the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic] and we are pressing ahead with that plan. Since 11 September we are looking again at the question of whether we should open a small Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where up to now we have not had one, principally for security reasons."[89] We welcome the Government's decision to increase diplomatic representation in Central Asia, as recommended by our predecessor Committee in its Report on the South Caucasus and Central Asia in July 1999.[90] We also welcome the opportunities the Government has recognised since 11 September for closer co-operation with Russia to increase security in the region.


90. The Foreign Secretary appeared before us on 20 November 2001, when he made clear that the military operation in Afghanistan was executed in full co-operation with the United States. British deployments were undertaken "within the CENTCOM operation, the Central Command of the US under General Tommy Franks." British troops were "not there as some independent operation, they are there with the United States in support of them."[91]

91. We commend the Government for the speed with which it deployed a sizeable contingent of UK personnel to CENTCOM, and conclude that this deployment made an important contribution to close co-operation with the United States in the campaign in Afghanistan.


92. The Foreign Secretary pointed out to us that "well before the military action appeared to be succeeding" he had set out, in public, a framework for the future of Afghanistan. The main points he had made in a speech on 22 October were that:

"First, that the future should, above all, be placed in the hands of the people of Afghanistan themselves;

      Second, that we need a global coalition to help rebuild Afghanistan;

      Third, that the United Nations should take the lead in the political process;

      And fourth, that we have to devote the resources and the political will needed to finish the job."[92]

93. On 5 December, the Foreign Secretary told us that Britain took a "leading role in the Security Council" on the question of post-Taliban Afghanistan.[93] The United Kingdom drafted UNSCR 1378, which was passed as the Taliban was expelled from Kabul on 14 November 2002. UNSCR 1378 called for the establishment of a new transitional administration which should be "broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative of all Afghan people." The resolution also affirmed the "central role" of the United Nations in supporting the Afghan people in establishing this administration, and called member states to provide support to Afghanistan to ensure security was re-established and to provide humanitarian and economic assistance to the country.

94. Earlier, Britain had "done a great deal of work behind the scenes, first of all much earlier in proposing that the Secretary General should appoint a special representative." In the event, Lakhdar Brahimi was appointed as the Secretary General's Special Representative for Afghanistan on 3 October 2001. The Foreign Secretary also pointed out that Britain was also the "first country to identify and appoint a senior diplomat to assist in the reconstruction process, in our case Robert Cooper."[94]

95. We commend the Government for realising, early in the Afghanistan campaign, the necessity to look beyond its military aspects. We conclude that the Government's planning in this area contributed to the rapid and successful establishment of an interim authority after the fall of the Taliban.

Phase I: summary

96. On 5 September 2001, President Bush stated that America had "no more important relationship in the world" than that with Mexico.[95] By 20 September, the President had invited the Prime Minister to join him at a Joint Session of Congress, where he declared that "America has no truer friend than Great Britain."[96] Fears over the future of the "special relationship" before 11 September were probably exaggerated.[97] However, the Government's actions in the immediate aftermath of the attack did much to cement British-US relations at America's time of crisis.[98]

97. What appear to have established Britain as America's most trusted ally in the war against terrorism were the actions taken by the Government to draw together and define a international coalition against terrorism, publicly and through multilateral fora. These actions ensured that, by the end of September, Britain had "a seat at the table" in Washington and ensured that "the views of the Blair Government are taken seriously".[99] The Government's articulation of campaign objectives also appears to have shaped coalition policy, seizing the moment of maximum support for counter-terrorist action to ensure that global action was taken to defeat the threat.

98. We believe that the Government's support of the UN's role in the war against terrorism was particularly important in these early stages. Without the British initiatives we mention here, the UN may not have been so central to the war against terrorism. We are convinced that this war can only be won through sustained global co-operation. The UN is the only global organisation with a mandate appropriate to this task. The CTC is an important initiative and its success so far depends to a great extent on British leadership.

99. We also commend the Government's work towards establishing international legal grounds, through the United Nations Security Council, before responding militarily against the threat of international terrorism. We believe that this focus on establishing a legal basis for action helped to ensure widespread international support for the subsequent military action in Afghanistan, and this holds lessons for future military actions.

100. Britain's leadership in the UN role early in the campaign may have influenced, at least for a time, the US Administration's view of the Organisation. On 10 November, President Bush opened the UN 56th General Assembly debate with a speech which appeared to show that the Administration saw the value of the UN in fighting terrorism. The UN, President Bush argued, had already defined the "most basic obligations in this new conflict," in UNSCR 1373.[100] Though the most important decisions in the conduct of the war against terrorism continue to be taken in Washington, not New York, the role of the UN in the global campaign against terrorism is now clearly established.

31   Official Report, 14 November 2001, col. 861. Back

32   Q3 [Foreign Secretary]. Back

33   New York Times, 4 October 2001. Back

34   See Second Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 2001-2002, British-US Relations, HC 327, para 16. Back

35   Official Report, 14 September 2001, cols. 605-6. Back

36   International Coalition Against Terrorism, Campaign Objectives:- Back

37   See Back

38   Q18. Back

39   This division of labour has been used before, for example in the publication in 1999 of a document on weapons of mass destruction, Defending against the threat of biological and chemical weapons, by the Ministry of Defence. Back

40   Q18. Back

41   Q18. Back

42   International Coalition Against Terrorism, Campaign Objectives:- Back

43   See Ev 3, para 16. Back

44   See Ev 1, para 5. See also the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman, Lobby Briefing, 25 October 2001: Back

45   See Ev 1, para 5. Back

46   See Ev 61, para 7. Back

47   The North Atlantic Council is the governing body of NATO. Back

48   NATO press release (2001) 124. Back

49   See Ev 1, para 3. Back

50   See Ev 1, para 4. Back

51   NATO 'Operation Eagle Assist' terminates on 16 May 2002.  Back

52   See Ev 61, para 7. Back

53   'Blair pushes Russia-NATO ties', BBC news online, 17 November 2001. Back

54   NATO press release, 14 May 2002: Back

55   US rallies west for attack on Afghanistan, The Guardian, 13 September 2001. Back

56   See Ev 1, para 4. Back

57   See Ev 61, para 8. Back

58   The Sunday Telegraph 2 June 2002. Back

59   'EU crisis response capabilities: an update.' International Crisis Group report, Brussels, 29 April 2002. Back

60   See Ev 14, para 13. Back

61   Q26. Back

62   Eurojust was finally approved at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 28 February 2002. See Back

63   See Ev 2, para 7. Back

64   See Back

65   Article 51 states that "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security. Measures undertaken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security."  Back

66   For a discussion of the legal bases and precedents, see Christopher Greenwood, "International Law and the 'war against terrorism'," International Affairs 78, 2(2002) 301-317. Back

67   See Back

68   Chapter VII: 'Action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression'. Back

69   UNSCR 1373 (2002), para 6. Back

70   Q25. See also Second Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 2001-2002, British-US Relations, HC 327, para 34. Back

71   Briefing by the Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of interested member states, 8 October 2001: Back

72   Press conference, New York, 19 October 2001 (UN Department of Public Information summary): Back

73   See Back

74   Official Report, 8 October 2001, col. 811. Back

75   Q74.  Back

76   See Back

77   See Back

78   See Back

79   'Al Qaida is winning war, allies warned,' Guardian, 31 October 2001. Back

80   'Cluster bombs stoke humanitarian crisis fears as civilian toll mounts', Agence France Presse, Islamabad, 25 October 2001. Back

81   See First Report from the International Development Committee, Session 2001-2002, The Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan and the Surrounding Region, HC 300-i, especially para 79. Back

82   Q34. Back

83   See Ev 36. Back

84   Q84. Back

85   See Back

86   Q87. Back

87   Q88. Back

88   See Ev 31, para 6. Back

89   Q67. Back

90   Sixth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 1998-99, South Caucasus and Central Asia, HC 349. Back

91   Q3. Back

92   'Order out of chaos: the future of Afghanistan.' Speech by the Foreign Secretary to the International Institute of Strategic Studies, 22 October 2001. Back

93   Q42. Back

94   Q42. Back

95   Graham Jones, "End of a special relationship?", 6 September 2001. Back

96   President's address to Joint Session of Congress, 20 September 2001: Back

97   The headline in The Daily Telegraph, for example, was "US special relationship switched to Mexico". Back

98   For a fuller discussion of this and following points, see Second Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Session 2001-2002, British-US Relations, HC 327. Back

99   Q2 [Foreign Secretary]. Back

100   President Bush's UN General Assembly Speech, 10 November 2001: Back

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