Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Sixth Report

5 Iraq

Security situation

Continuing problems

99. In our last Report, published in July 2004, we noted that the handover to Iraq's interim government had been brought forward to 28 June 2004 in an effort to forestall the threat of terrorist violence but that no immediate cessation was expected.[133] We also noted that the security situation had deteriorated since our previous Report, which was published in January 2004. Regrettably the security situation has deteriorated further. On 28 February, a car bomb in Hilla, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad, left at least 125 dead and 130 wounded in one of the single biggest attacks since the war.[134] Increasingly it is the Iraqi Security Forces that are bearing the brunt of the attacks, as the Multi-National Force (MNF) takes a lower profile.

100. The types of attack remain similar to those we described in July 2004.[135] Members of the Iraqi security forces continue to be targeted with alarming regularity and with devastating consequences, as do those with links to the political process, be they politicians or civil servants. The insurgents stepped up their campaign of violence in the run up to the elections on 30 January. On polling day, there were nine suicide bombings in Baghdad and 260 attacks nationwide, with a total of 44 fatalities.[136] The MNF and foreigners in general also continue to be targeted. Perhaps even more insidious have been the continued attacks against particular religious communities, designed as they are to exacerbate sectarian tensions. Suicide attacks killed more than 70 people during Ashura this year, the day when Shia Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet.[137] There have also been attacks on Iraq's Christian minority.[138] Iraq's oil infrastructure also continues to be targeted, along with reconstruction efforts.

101. Dr Toby Dodge, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the University of Warwick, and a former witness to this inquiry, has written that in addition to these 'high-profile' attacks, the security vacuum has "given rise to a tide of rampant criminality. House-breaking, car-jacking and the seizing of people either to be held for ransom or sold into prostitution are very present dangers for Iraqis as they try to put their lives back together."[139] Dr Joost Hilterman, the Middle East Project Director at the International Crisis Group, wrote to us about the effect this is having:

Violence has spread to affect all sectors of society in all aspects of daily life. Ordinary Iraqi citizens feel insecure in their neighbourhoods and even in their own homes. Travelling outside of urban areas is particularly risky. The fear is less of bomb attacks and other insurgent activity—of which most people see little (other than on TV)—than of the general lack of law and order.[140]

102. Despite this gloomy picture, the attacks have not spread throughout the country. The FCO wrote to us about the geographical distribution of the insurgency:

It is important to bear in mind that violence is concentrated in a minority of Iraq's provinces. In other parts of the country the situation is more secure. In the past three months, four provinces with 41% of the population have accounted for 83% of attacks: Salah ad-Din, Anbar, Ninawa and Baghdad. By contrast ten provinces, mostly in the centre-south and north, with 34% of the population had 1.2% of attacks.[141]

103. We also heard from Kamran al-Karadaghi, of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, about the relative calm in many parts of Iraq: "[T]he situation in the south and the so-called central Euphrates area has been relatively calm, especially since the confrontation ended between the coalition and Iraqi forces, on the one hand, and the fighters of the Al-Mahdi Army led by the young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr."[142] According to a recent report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), there is a significant level of security in 12 provinces. "[E]ven in areas where insurgents operate and have significant local influence, populations are divided and are rarely under insurgent control. Moreover, if one looks at the total population of all the scattered cities and areas where insurgents and terrorists largely dominate, it does not exceed 6-9% of Iraq's total population."[143]

Understanding the insurgency

104. In previous Reports in this inquiry we have noted the different elements involved in the insurgency. We observed that there was a "dangerous alliance" of foreign fighters and elements of the former Iraqi regime as well as a strong current of more ordinary criminality.[144]

105. The US has been criticised for exaggerating the role of foreign fighters in Iraq and underplaying the insurgency's nationalist elements:

U.S. commanders have tended to blame foreign fighters like Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi for most of the violence. This reflects a failure to appreciate that while these fighters obviously enjoy certain sources of Iraqi support, especially in tribal areas in Al-Anbar (Falluja/Ramadi), Salah al-Din (Tikrit/Samarra) and Nineveh (Mosul) governorates, they are only a small group whose agenda and means of achieving it differ significantly from that of most Iraqi insurgents.[145]

106. The United Kingdom has been somewhat more circumspect. The FCO wrote to us about the composition of the insurgency: "The insurgent groups are disparate in nature and range from Baathists to religious extremists… We believe that most attacks in Iraq are the work of Iraqi insurgents, particularly former regime elements."[146] Nevertheless, the Government has placed significant emphasis on the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq.[147] Speaking to the Liaison Committee on 8 February, the Prime Minister stressed the role in the insurgency of al Qaeda and foreign fighters over and above domestic elements.[148] The Prime Minister has also referred to Iraq as the "crucible in which the future of this global terrorism will be determined".[149]

107. Understanding the nature of the insurgency is key to any effort to bring it to an end. While acknowledging the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq, all our witnesses have emphasised the domestic Iraqi factors behind the violence. Dr Hilterman wrote to us about this:

The insurgencies in Iraq today are primarily driven by deep-seated grievances prevailing in two communities: Disaffected Sunni Arabs, who fear being de-privileged after decades of access to power and wealth through their proximity to especially the republican regimes, and equally disaffected members of the Ba'ath party (including many secular Shiites) who have become targets of de-Ba'athification (regardless of their conduct under the previous regime).[150]

108. Socio-economic factors may also be feeding into the violence, with unemployment and poverty helping to create a pool of willing recruits for insurgents:

[T]here is a much broader group of unemployed Iraqis who serve as a recruiting ground for the insurgent groups, regardless of the latter's ideology or politics, or who may resort to criminality. They include workers of idle state factories, soldiers of the dismissed national army and young Iraqis who have never held a job. Only a massive attempt at employment generation may serve to reabsorb members of this group into legality.[151]

This has been especially true of the supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad, who are "not politically disaffected as much as the members of an economically marginalised underclass." [152] No doubt a number of Iraqis are also angered by what they consider to be an occupation by foreign powers. It is hoped that such sentiments will diminish as the process of democracy confers additional legitimacy on the Government in Baghdad and the MNF becomes less visible.

109. We conclude that although many parts of Iraq are secure, much of the country continues to be wracked by violence. This has devastating consequences for the Iraqi population and imperils the country's political transition; it also hinders the reconstruction process which is key to improving the quality of the lives of Iraqis and drying up the 'recruitment pool' for insurgents. Foreign terrorists have certainly played a leading and deadly role in the insurgency. However, the evidence points to the greater part of the violence stemming from Iraqi groups and individuals, some motivated by religious extremism and others who have been dispossessed by policies adopted by the Coalition since the war, such as de-Ba'athification and the disbanding of the Iraqi security forces. Excessive use by the US forces of overwhelming firepower has also been counterproductive, provoking antagonism towards the Coalition among ordinary Iraqis. We conclude that it should not have been beyond the planning capabilities of the Coalition to anticipate the consequences of these various policies.

Ending the insurgency

110. In our last Report, we noted that newly appointed interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had said that he planned to reverse the process of de-Ba'athification and that he was considering imposing emergency measures in order to tackle the security problem. There were also suggestions of a limited amnesty.[153] Prime Minister Allawi went on to impose emergency measures but has not pursued efforts to reverse de-Ba'athification. Moreover, plans to initiate talks with insurgents were hindered by the Interim Government's lack of legitimacy and power and were ultimately blocked by the US, although there was a limited weapons amnesty. As a result, the focus of the counter-insurgency strategy has remained military.

111. We heard from our witnesses about the inadequacies of large-scale assaults such as that on Fallujah in November 2004:

While wholesale assaults on urban centres such as Falluja and Samarra no doubt have succeeded in killing quantities of insurgents, they have (1) failed to prevent the escape of key insurgents, and (2) created a more generalised anger and resentment among a population that feels reinforced in its perception that it is being disenfranchised and marginalised in the new Iraq.[154]

Kamran al-Karadaghi told us that the majority of the insurgents had escaped from Fallujah, many of them going to Mosul.[155] Indeed, there has been increased violence in Mosul since the assault on Fallujah.[156]

112. In his evidence to the Committee, Dr Hilterman emphasised the need to "dry up popular support" for the insurgents and reduce the pool of recruitable young men. To do this, he recommended a multi-track strategy consisting of political, economic and security aspects:

Political: Assist the creation of a legitimate government that can effectively govern and deliver essential services to the population and keeps corruption to a minimum. Serious overtures have to be made to bring disaffected Iraqis back into the political fold. Promote an open and inclusive constitutional process.

Economic: Promote the type of reconstruction that draws in the largest number of unemployed. Fix the problems with the power supply.

Security: Build up a police force able to restore law and order. Build up an intelligence capability that can ferret out hard-core insurgents. Build up customs capabilities and other forms of border control to prevent jihadis and funds from entering Iraq. Start reducing the presence and visibility of U.S. forces in populated areas.[157]

113. We conclude that to date the counter-insurgency strategy has not succeeded. This may reflect an overriding focus on a military approach to the detriment of political engagement. This has been exacerbated by the slow progress of reconstruction efforts. We recommend that the Government encourage the Iraqi Government and Coalition forces to follow a more rounded counter-insurgency strategy where possible.

Political inclusion

114. Dr Hilterman wrote to us about the disaffection of Sunnis and former members of the Ba'ath Party, whose involvement in the insurgency may stem from their sense of dispossession. He told us about the possibility of engaging them politically:

Members of these two communities could theoretically be drawn back into the political process if they are given sufficient assurances and power to allay their fears of future punishment, discrimination and repression. They have suggested that, despite their boycott of the January 2005 elections, they are interested in participating in the drafting of the constitution. Many have also indicated their abhorrence of practices such as the beheading of hostages or suicide bombings in crowded civilian areas, which they attribute to foreign fighters.[158]

115. Dr Dodge has also argued the need to bring into the political process those elements of the insurgency whose grievances could potentially be addressed:

By doing so it would split the revolt, separating the scorched-earth nihilists from those with a coherent political platform and a commitment to Iraq's future. A broad political front seeking to represent antioccupation groups does exist. The Iraqi founding National Conference is a coalition that holds within its ranks both Sunni and Shia groups who want to see an end to the US presence. The radical Shia politician, Muqtada al Sadr, is a member, along with the most influential Sunni group, the Association of Muslim Scholars. It has publicly committed itself to democracy but will only take part in elections held under international supervision after US troops have set a timetable for their departure.[159]

116. There are suggestions that the US itself may now be seeking to initiate 'back-channel' contacts with some of the insurgents. According to a recent report in Time, "the US is in direct contact with members of the Sunni insurgency, including former members of Saddam's Baathist regime."[160]

117. We conclude that while negotiations with al Qaeda and foreign fighters are out of the question, it might be possible to address some of the Iraqi insurgents' grievances through political negotiations. We recommend that the Government be prepared to support any such efforts by the new Iraqi Government.

Reconstruction and socio-economic development

118. Our witnesses have told us about the importance of improving the socio-economic situation of Iraqis in order to give them a stake in the new Iraq and deprive the insurgents of recruits. Damien McElroy, a Sunday Telegraph Foreign Correspondent who has spent time in Iraq, told us:

[T]here has always been an element of Iraq being a contest between the forces of chaos and the forces of money… For much of the time I was going there the money just was not getting out; what was being allotted was not spent and what was spent was being spent on, basically, lots of foreigners who were hired on wages far beyond what an Iraqi would get. There were good reasons for that but there also was not the general spend. I am told that general spending is picking up, that more and more people are being absorbed in jobs but people need an incentive; they need to feel that the government is going somewhere, that the government will take root, that the government will establish itself.[161]

119. In previous Reports we have noted the need to address the problem of unemployment, especially in Basrah where the United Kingdom had responsibility during the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administration.[162] We noted the steps taken by the Government to assist in this area, but concluded that unemployment remained a serious problem and that further progress was required.[163] In its response to our Report, the Government told us that the evidence suggested that the problem of unemployment had been overestimated.[164] However, it acknowledged that more needed to be done to help. It is difficult to find an accurate figure for unemployment, but the evidence suggests that it remains a serious problem.

120. We have also noted the progress of reconstruction efforts.[165] In July 2004, we concluded that despite some improvements, the provision of basic services was not yet satisfactory.[166] In evidence to the International Development Committee in January, Ken Caldwell, International Overseas Director of Save the Children, described the current status of infrastructure in Iraq: "Our observation would be that this is a very widely varying picture across different communities in Iraq. There are some where the infrastructure now is significantly better than it was pre-war. There are others where it is still not functioning."[167] In large part, this difference derives from the varying security picture. Yahia Said, Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics, expanded on the impact of security on reconstruction:

There are not such set rules that you can do reconstruction in the north as you can do it in the south or the centre. In Baghdad recently Sadr City, where two million out of five million Baghdadis live, has been the scene of quite successful reconstruction effort ongoing after the ceasefire was signed. Other parts of Baghdad of course are off limits for reconstruction effort, whether they are driven by DfID or whether they are driven by Iraqi ministries. The same could be said of other areas in Iraq… Generally the biggest security challenge in Iraq today is the roads. What you have is that millions or sometimes billions of dollars are spent, for example, fixing Baghdad Airport but the road to Baghdad Airport is unpassable and quite dangerous, which means that that investment lies almost dormant. It is the same with the billions being spent on the port facilities in the south. There is a very big capacity in the ports to import and export goods but the roads are quite unsafe.[168]

121. In addition to the overall prohibitive impact of the security threat, reconstruction efforts have also been deliberately targeted:

Over the last month there have been about three or four hours of electricity in Baghdad, which is atrocious, although the generating capacity has been improved significantly and Iraq today has more generating capacity than it had before the war. The sabotage, both in terms of the power lines but also in terms of the fuel supplies to the power stations, has meant that this generating capacity is lying dormant.[169]

122. We conclude that the slow pace of reconstruction and the failure significantly to improve the quality of life for many Iraqis may have played a role in fuelling the insurgency by providing a pool of willing recruits. We further conclude that it is essential that greater progress is made towards improving basic services in Iraq and increasing employment opportunities so that Iraqis may see a material improvement in the quality of their lives. We recommend that the Government step up its efforts in support of the reconstruction process and examine how to increase the impact of reconstruction efforts.

Iraqi Security Forces

123. In previous Reports in this inquiry we have followed efforts to build up new Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and commended the Governments efforts in this area.[170] The FCO wrote to us about the role of the ISF:

ISF are taking an increasing role in tackling the insurgency. In 2004, Iraqi security forces fought alongside the MNF in Najaf, Samarra, Fallujah, Baghdad, North Babil, Mosul and a number of other locations. The largest operation was in Fallujah where 3,000 ISF were involved last November, supported by the US military.[171]

124. The ISF are credited with much of the success of polling day, when the level of violence was much lower than had been expected:

Some 5,200 polling sites were secured with two rings of Iraqi security personnel, estimated to number 130,000. Certainly the backup by coalition forces was of enormous importance. However, it was Iraqi security forces who prevented terrorists from penetrating the security around any of the more than 5,000 polling sites, and it was Iraqi police and soldiers who gave their lives to prevent several suicide vest bombers from blowing up large numbers of those standing in line to vote.[172]

Both the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have paid tribute to the bravery shown by the ISF during the election.[173]

125. However, there is some dispute over the number of trained and equipped Iraqi forces as well as their level of training and competence. In January, US Secretary of State Conoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that 120,000 members of the ISF were trained and equipped.[174] On 3 February, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put this figure at 136,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers trained and equipped to "the appropriate level",[175] while Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told the House on 10 January that 115,000 Iraqi security personnel were "trained, equipped, and operating across Iraq".[176] Meanwhile, Congressional estimates are reported to put the figure at no more that 14,000 "battle-ready" troops.[177]

126. A report by the US State Department to Congress in January 2005 noted that: "While Iraq's Security Forces have shown considerable progress during the last quarter, the overall performance of these forces has been mixed when put to test."[178] A report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies expanded on the difficulties faced by the ISF:

[T]here have been many occasions on which various Iraqi forces have failed to perform their missions both as a result of these insurgent attacks, a lack of leadership and integrity on the part of some Iraqi officers, and a lack of experience and dedication on the part of other ranks… At the same time, Iraqi forces are showing that they can be effective when they have the proper leadership, organization, training, equipment, and facilities. Some have fought well in demanding battles and engagements, and even less combat-capable forces like the police are taking hold in many areas.[179]

127. Given the ongoing problem with law and order the status of the police is particularly important. The FCO wrote to us in February about this:

The Iraqi Police Service (IPS) performance is improving, but progress still needs to be made in developing leadership and specialist skills, with the ultimate aim of being able to operate independently from the MNF. There are five academies operational across the country, training 4,000 officers per month. Police stations are being hardened and more weapons provided. Quick reaction forces have been activated with five provincial SWAT teams trained and 15 more scheduled in the next six months…. The better-trained and led units have been able to deal with confrontations with criminal gangs and public disturbances, but there is a good deal more to do. Moreover, the picture across Iraq is variable. Current manning stands at some 95,000 of which 59% are described as trained, equipped and capable. The approved increase to 135,000 IPS officers will see some 56% trained and equipped by July 2005 with training complete by May 2006.[180]

128. The Committee has also heard concerns that the ethnic makeup of the new ISF is problematic. Dr Gareth Stansfield of the University of Exeter and a long-standing expert on the Kurds told us: "The only peoples who seem willing to join the new forces are either Kurds or Shi'i. Therefore, the new institutions of security are considered, by those in sunni areas,… to be fighting either as Kurds, or as Shi'i, and not as Iraqis."[181] Joost Hilterman told us that the use of Kurdish forces has been particularly problematic:

[T]he deployment of elite Iraqi units almost exclusively composed of Kurds in areas such as Falluja, Najaf and Mosul has alarmed Arab communities there and stirred communal tensions. (Kurdish peshmerga fighters are the most battle-hardened, disciplined and reliable forces currently available in Iraq; the temptation is great to deploy them as proof of the rebirth of the Iraqi security forces in a virtual security vacuum.)[182]

129. We conclude that progress has been made towards building up the new Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and that they played a crucial role in providing security for the Iraqi elections. Indeed, we commend the immense bravery of members of the ISF, who operate under the most dangerous of circumstances. However, the ISF remain too few in number and are insufficiently trained to be able to take over from the Multi-National Force. We conclude that the reliance on Shia and Kurdish communities to build up the ISF risks sowing the seeds of future ethnic and sectarian conflict. We recommend that the United Kingdom and its international partners redouble their efforts to build up the ISF. We further recommend that the United Kingdom work to prevent the ISF from becoming associated with particular ethnic or sectarian groups and ensure that it reflects the whole of Iraqi society so that it can act as a force for national unity.

Regional states

130. In previous Reports in this inquiry we have noted the need for greater efforts to be made by Iraq's neighbours to prevent foreign fighters from entering the country.[183] As Kamran al-Karadaghi told us, this remains a concern:

What the coalition and the government, I think, must do is put more pressure on some of the neighbouring countries of Iraq: Syria and Iran—especially Syria. The new Ba'athist leadership is really based in Syria. We have information that they have recently elected a new leadership; they had a meeting in the Al-Hasakah area on the Iraqi border, they elected a new general secretary temporarily because they still consider Saddam Hussein as their leader. So they have elected a general secretary from Tikrit, and the sons of Saddam Hussein's brothers—his relatives—are in Syria, really, establishing companies so that they have money. Iran, also, is doing a lot.[184]

131. Possibly under the weight of intensified international pressure owing to events in Lebanon, Syria in February handed over to Iraq Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half brother, who is suspected of funding and planning the insurgency.[185] Nevertheless, Syria could do much more. The FCO wrote to us about this:

Syria remains the main point of entry for jihadists aiming to reach Iraq, and the Syrians could do more to tackle this. Likewise Syria could do more to stop jihadist groups and individuals operating inside Syria who facilitate the training and the transfer of insurgents to Iraq. We welcome the handing over by Syria of Saddam Hussein's half brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, but there are other insurgency leaders who the Syrian regime continues to harbour (Iraq has passed details of individuals it wants to see action on to the Syrians).[186]

132. Turning to Iran, on 1 March the Foreign Secretary told the House: "There has been more co-operation … between the coalition forces in Iraq and the Government of Iran in respect of MEK,[187] which is a nasty terrorist organisation that has to be contained."[188] It is regrettable that Iran has not offered greater assistance in other areas of co-operation in Iraq.

133. We conclude that Iraq's neighbours continue to have a role to play in assisting the political transition in Iraq and improving the security situation. We recommend that the Government continue to work with regional states including Syria and Iran to encourage them to play a more co-operative role.

The Multi-National Force

134. The FCO wrote to us about the role of the MNF in Iraq:

The UN-mandated MNF's principal role is helping Iraq to provide the security conditions for reconstruction and political development. We are focused on developing the capability and capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces. Twelve EU states are contributing to this with troops through the MNF, others through personnel as part of the NATO Training Mission and others through police training programmes in Jordan and UAE. 130,000 Iraqi security personnel are now trained, equipped, and operating across Iraq with over 220,000 on duty.

In accordance with UNSCR 1546, we will continue to assist Iraq deal with its security for as long as required and requested by the Iraqis. We will continue to help develop the Iraq Security Forces through support for training as well as direct military support, when this is called for by the Iraqis.[189]

135. In previous Reports in this inquiry we have noted the reluctance of some countries to assist in Iraq and regretted the failure to internationalise the MNF significantly, despite the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 1546.[190] The FCO wrote to us in November 2004 with details of the states contributing to the MNF:

In total, including UK (8500) and US forces (138,000), there are forces from some 30 nations on the ground. These are Italy (2857), Netherlands (1368), Denmark (485), Portugal (124), Lithuania (131), Czech Republic (93), Romania (747), Japan (539), Bulgaria (411), Hungary (295), Mongolia (160), Poland (2500), Slovakia (105), Ukraine (1589), Albania (74), Kazakhstan (29), Georgia (72), Macedonia (34), Azerbaijan (150), Moldova (12), Estonia (42), Latvia (124), El Salvador (380), South Korea (3700), Australia (312), Armenia (50) and Tonga (44). Norway retain 4 staff officers in Multinational Division South East.[191]

136. While this is an impressive list of international contributors, the numbers show that the bulk of the contribution continues to come from just two states. Moreover, a number of these countries have announced their intention to withdraw their forces from Iraq, including Italy, Ukraine, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands.[192] Meanwhile, initial optimism that an Islamic force might be formed for Iraq has proved unfounded.

137. We noted in our last Report in this inquiry that Iraq had requested that NATO provide technical assistance and training to help tackle the country's security problems. US President George Bush had also called for NATO to send troops to Iraq. "However, the NATO summit at the end of June failed to produce more than a commitment to assist the training of Iraq's security forces. In particular, France opposed a greater NATO role in Iraq." Since that time there has been some progress on increasing the level of assistance by the EU and NATO. During President Bush's visit to Europe in February, the EU announced that it would co-host an international conference on aid for Iraq (if invited to by the Iraqi government).

138. In addition, all 26 NATO members are now helping to train Iraqi army officers. Nevertheless, many of the contributions remain small: France will send just one officer to help support the mission from NATO headquarters; and Luxembourg is making a small financial contribution.[193]

139. Many of the difficulties surrounding international involvement in Iraq stem from divisions over the decision to go to war in Iraq. In January, the US confirmed that it has stopped looking for WMD in Iraq and that Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), would not be returning to the country.[194] In October 2004, the ISG published a report saying that Iraq had no WMD at the outset of the war but that Saddam Hussein had intended to resume production of banned weapons when UN sanctions were lifted.[195]

140. Asked about how long the MNF will remain in Iraq, the Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee:

What we always say is that we will remain in Iraq for as long as is needed, but, as I have said before, it is our desire, it is the Iraqi Government's desire and it is the Iraqi people's desire that we go from Iraq as soon as is possible. The question is: what is as soon as is possible? As soon as is possible means when the job is done, and the job is building up that Iraqi capability.[196]

141. There is clearly a need for the MNF to leave Iraq as soon as possible, not least because some insurgents are motivated by nationalist concerns and a strong desire to rid the country of foreign forces. Yahia Said wrote to us that some of the insurgents are "fighting both to protect their social status and a conservative Islamic culture from the onslaught of the foreign occupiers and their Westernized Iraqi allies."[197] Neil Partrick of the Economist Intelligence Unit also told us that there is growing popular support for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops, although this remains a minority opinion.[198] Revelations about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by both US and British forces will only have increased this sentiment.[199]

142. There are indications that the MNF is already seeking to take a lower profile.[200] There have also been suggestions that details might soon emerge of how the MNF will hand over control of security in Iraq to the ISF. Referring to a paper drawn up by General Gary Luck, a retired US General who led a team to assess the US operation in Iraq, the Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee:

Now, in the paper that I hope we can publish, because we are still looking at it and considering it now, that General Luck and his colleagues have drawn up, I think we will be able to give some idea of what the next steps and over what period the Iraqiisation of security will take place because there is a need obviously for quantity in terms of police and army, but there is also a need for quality, for crack troops and forces that are able to go in and handle the insurgents.[201]

143. We conclude that despite efforts to internationalise the Multi-National Force and contributions by around 30 nations, the US and United Kingdom have carried the major burden of the operation in Iraq. This burden will increase with the withdrawal by a number of states of their forces over the coming months. We conclude that despite steps towards increased involvement by the EU and NATO in Iraq, including with regard to training the Iraqi Security Forces, this assistance remains limited. We recommend that the United Kingdom and its international allies work to reduce the presence and visibility of its forces where possible. We further recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report what plans it has to hand over to the Iraqi Security Forces.

Political developments

144. In previous Reports in this inquiry we have discussed political developments in Iraq, most recently including the writing of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), formation of the Interim Government and the adoption of UNSCR 1546.[202] Since our last Report, Iraq's political transition has taken significant strides forward with the holding of free and fair elections.

Electoral success

145. On 30 January, Iraq held national and provincial elections in line with the timetable set out in UNSCR 1546. Some 8,000 candidates stood for the Transitional National Assembly (TNA) and 11,000 for provincial and Kurdish elections. Around 8.5 million Iraqis, or 58% of the electorate, voted. Expatriate Iraqis were also able to vote. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) organised out-of-country voting in 14 countries, enabling 265,148 expatriate Iraqis to cast their ballot.[203] Turnout varied considerably across Iraq and across ethnic and religious divides. In northern areas, which are dominated by the Kurds, turnout was as high as 85%. In southern districts, where the majority of the population is Shia, turnout was put at 71%. However, the figure was as low as 2% in some Sunni areas (this included Anbar Province, which is in the north-west of Iraq, and witnessed some of the worst violence).[204] Joost Hilterman wrote to us about Sunni non-participation:

Their absence at the polls was not due merely to an official boycott of Sunni-Arab-based parties such as the Muslim Scholars Association and the Iraqi Islamic Parties (whose members were permitted to run as independents), nor only to violence and intimidation (even in Jordan and the UAE, Sunni Arabs mostly stayed away). Many chose to shun the polls seeing the election as the mechanism by which the Shiite majority would gain political power, a development that was not in their interest and they did not wish to legitimate through their participation. (Evidence suggests that what remains of the non-sectarian "Sunni" Arab middle class in urban centres such as Baghdad and Mosul did vote, if they had the chance.)[205]

146. The election was widely praised as a remarkable achievement. The Foreign Secretary told the House on 31 January that the elections had gone better than many had anticipated and were all the more remarkable for the circumstances in which they were held. He spoke about the bravery of voters:

In Sadr City in Baghdad, for example, a mortar attack at a polling station in a local school left a number of people wounded. However, multinational force troops at the site report that people simply helped the wounded and then, along with those who could do so, rejoined the queue to vote. In Sunni areas in central Iraq, large groups of people defied terrorist intimidation and walked several kilometres to polling stations to cast their votes. Those elections were a moving demonstration that democracy and freedom are universal values to which people everywhere aspire.[206]

147. The UN provided critical advice and support to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI). This included technical, administrative, logistic and financial support. At the request of the IECI, the UN was responsible for co-ordinating all international assistance to the electoral process. The UN had 56 electoral experts working inside and outside Iraq to support preparations for the vote.[207] The IECI has said that over 100,000 domestic observers monitored the elections. In addition, 600 international monitors were accredited to the IECI.

148. The Canadian-based International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE) noted in its preliminary assessment of the election that the "Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq has prepared and conducted an election that generally meets recognized standards in terms of election law, planning and preparations."[208] Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Chair of the IMIE Steering Committee and Canada's Chief Electoral Officer, congratulated the IECI for "the rapid progress it has achieved in establishing the foundations for democratic participation in Iraq, particularly given the short time frame and arduous circumstances."[209]

149. We conclude that Iraq's elections were a great achievement and could mark a milestone in the country's transition to a fully independent and free nation. We commend the dedication and bravery of the Iraqi people in casting their votes in the face of the most brutal intimidation. We further commend the role of the UN in supporting this process, which once again demonstrates the importance of UN engagement in processes of political transition.

The ongoing political process

150. The United Iraqi Alliance (a Shia list endorsed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani) took 48% of the vote, giving it 140 seats in the 275-member Assembly; the Kurdistan Alliance (a coalition bringing together the two main Kurdish parties) took 26% (75 seats); and the Iraqi List (led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi) won 14% (40 seats). Nine other parties shared the remaining seats. No single party gained the two-thirds majority required to pass legislation.[210] The TNA convened for its inaugural session on 16 March.

151. The TNA will elect a state presidency council comprising a president and two deputies. The council will then select a prime minister, who will appoint a cabinet; the cabinet must be approved by the TNA. At this point the Iraqi Transitional Government will be sworn in and the Interim Government dissolved. The TNA will then begin work on drafting the constitution. Under the provisions of the TAL, the deadline for the constitution is 15 August (there is a provision for one six-month extension of the deadline); it will be submitted to a referendum by 15 October. If the Constitution is approved, elections for a permanent government will be held no later than 15 December and the new Government assume office no later than 31 December 2005.[211]

152. Under the TAL, if the referendum rejects the draft permanent constitution, the National Assembly will be dissolved and elections for a new National Assembly held no later than 15 December 2005. The new National Assembly and new Iraqi Transitional Government will take office no later than 31 December 2005, and will continue to operate under the TAL.[212]

153. The low turnout in Sunni areas has prompted concerns over the inclusiveness of the political process. We have already noted the fact that the Sunni community's sense of dispossession is one factor feeding into the insurgency.[213] Joost Hilterman wrote to us about the importance of efforts to expand the political process:

For the sake of the country's stabilisation, every effort should be made to bring a broad spectrum of Sunni Arab political actors into the political process and institutions through the back door. They want participation in the army and security services, the cabinet, the ministries, and the committee that will be charged with drafting the constitution. They also want a reversal of de-Ba'athification (though they might agree to the creation of a fair screening mechanisms to weed out those with blood on their hands). Leaders of the United Iraqi Alliance (reportedly strongly backed in this approach by Ayatollah Sistani) have publicly reached out to their Sunni Arab brethren, and some Sunni Arab leaders have suggested they might be willing to re-join the political and, especially, the constitutional process. These are encouraging signs but the obstacles are many.[214]

Challenges facing the new Government

154. The success of the election offers a window of opportunity for progress on the political process, accompanied as it has been by an outpouring of hope for the future. However, Iraq's future remains fraught with difficulties and uncertainty. Joost Hilteman wrote to us about the prospects of the Transitional Government:

Whatever government that emerges from the January elections is certain to have a good deal more legitimacy than the Allawi-government… But much will depend on (1) how effective the new government will be in delivering essential services, (2) how effective it will be in curbing corruption rather than thriving on it, and (3) how capable it will be of distancing itself from US/UK tutelage, lest it also be tarnished with the "proxy" label that undermined its predecessor.[215]

155. The writing of the Constitution will also be critical to the political future of Iraq and put the new Government and Assembly to the test. In our last Report in this inquiry we noted the agreement of the TAL in March 2004 and commented that it was a remarkable achievement.[216] The TAL outlined the system of government, role of religion and rights of the Iraqi people. The political system is defined as republican, federal, democratic and pluralistic. Islam is the official religion of the state and "a" source of legislation. Federalism is based on geography, history and the separation of powers and not ethnicity or sect. The Kurdistan Regional Government is recognised as an official regional government within a unified Iraq.[217] According to its provisions, the TAL will "remain in effect until the permanent constitution is issued and the new Iraqi government is formed in accordance with it.[218]

156. Two key challenges will be to find a federal formula that satisfies the Kurds' aspirations for self-government without risking the break up of Iraq and an agreement on the role of Islam in Iraq. Gareth Stansfield wrote to us about Kurdish political aspirations:

The Kurds are the most politically and militarily organized of Iraq's political actors, and are now on the verge of consolidating their hold on the north of Iraq. For most Kurds, they now do not consider themselves to be Iraqis, and there is now a popular ground-swell of support for Kurds to seek independence. The Kurdish leadership is more moderate, and seeks autonomy within Iraq, but the levels of autonomy being demanded are extensive.[219]

An unofficial referendum on Kurdish independence was conducted outside northern polling stations on 30 January.

157. It was Kurdish concerns that led to the inclusion in the TAL of a 'veto clause' whereby if three provinces vote by two-thirds or more against the draft constitution it will fail. Kurds make up the majority in three provinces in the north of the country and the cause has become known as the 'Kurdish veto'. Despite the agreement of the TAL, the clause has since been rejected by members of the United Iraqi Alliance and many Sunnis are also known to oppose it.[220] There have been calls for the clause to be amended or even scrapped before the constitution is finalised According to the TAL, it can only be amended by a three-quarters majority in parliament. Paradoxically, what began life as a safeguard for the Kurds may in future be seen as a safeguard for the Sunni community.

158. Several of our witnesses have warned us about the risk of Kurdish secession if their aspirations for autonomy are not met:

The levels of autonomy they envisage would include them to be able to veto Iraqi law from being implemented in Kurdistan, and also bar the Iraqi army from being located in the north. For the Kurdish parties, any attempts to block them from achieving these levels of autonomy could be met with an attempt to secede from the state. It is presumed that, in such a scenario, Turkey would intervene to prevent this. However, with Turkey now more concerned about joining the EU, it is questionable whether it would involve itself militarily in the affairs of Iraq.[221]

The division of Iraqi oil revenues will be critical to any federal solution to this issue.

159. The status of Kirkuk is particularly problematic and has prompted fears over sectarian conflict. Under Saddam Hussein, a policy of 'Arabisation' was pursued in Kirkuk in an attempt to alter the population balance and ensure the loyalty of the region. This involved the displacement of tens of thousands of Kurds and Turkomans from Kirkuk and the surrounding villages. Those who were not driven out of Kirkuk were encouraged to "change their ethnic designation to Arab".[222] At the same time, Arabs were encouraged to settle in Kirkuk.

160. Recent events in Kirkuk have prompted fears about ethnic tension. Since the end of the war, many displaced Kurds and Turkomans have returned to Kirkuk and the surrounding area, often being forced to live in conditions of deprivation and squalor. This is altering the city's demographic balance. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported in September 2004 that 12,135 Kurdish and 3,925 Turkoman families had moved back to Kirkuk and its environs, the majority settling in the city.[223] This is having serious consequences for the demographic balance in Kirkuk. This issue was brought to the fore in the recent election:

The most dangerous provincial election took place in Kirkuk governorate. Here Kurds swamped the polls and swept to victory, facing opposition only from the minority Turkomans (Arabs stayed away). The Kurds now control the provincial council in addition to the security apparatus and the administration (directorates), while they are increasing their numbers and enjoy US military protection. Sectarian animosities in Kirkuk are now so strong that a small spark could ignite sectarian violence; Arabs and Turkomans are known to have started arming themselves, but they would likely be outnumbered and overpowered by the Kurds.[224]

Under the TAL, a permanent resolution of the situation in Kirkuk is to be postponed until after the permanent constitution has been agreed.[225] Neil Partrick told us that this "reflected the desire to obscure a key difference between Kurdish and Shia representatives."[226]

161. The role of Islam included in the constitution will also be controversial. The formulation achieved in the TAL was widely praised, but there is no guarantee that this will make it into the new constitution. Gareth Stansfield told us about the difficulties over this issue:

The position stated in the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) of March 2004 is that Islam will be a source of legislation. It is essential that it remains 'a' rather than 'the'. The two leading Shi'i parties (the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq - SCIRI) and al-Da'wa, have both had a long history of pursuing an Islamic state, and it is only in recent years that this more moderate language has been used by them. Many non-Shi'i, or secular, Iraqis fear that the recent electoral success of the Shi'i United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) will embolden the Shi'i leaderships to move back to a more religiously conservative position. The Shi'i also do not support the notion of Iraq becoming a federal state, but are keen to maintain the integrity of a unitary system. The Kurds oppose the notion of Islam having a position in the laws of the state, but have accepted it as 'a' source of legislation, as long as they have a power of veto in their region.[227]

There are concerns that the adoption of an Islamist constitution could have a destabilising effect.

The role of the international community

162. It is critical for the legitimacy and independence of the new Iraqi political institutions that the United Kingdom and United States do not interfere in the ongoing political process. These difficult issues must be resolved by the Iraqis themselves. Nevertheless, there is a role for the international community. The FCO wrote to us about this:

UNSCR 1546 gives the UN a supporting role in the constitutional process, if requested by the TNA. We and other members of the international community, such as the EU, also stand ready to offer support if asked… The international community must now rally behind the Transitional Government, its institutions and, working with the UN and other international organisations, do all it can to support the political and reconstruction processes and help develop the Iraqi Security Forces.[228]

163. In our last Report in this inquiry we noted the critical role that the UN played in the interim political process and the importance of its continued engagement in Iraq.[229] We noted the provisions for security protection for the UN in UNSCR 1546: "The letter from US Secretary of State Colin Powell attached as an annex to UNSCR 1546 says that: "the MNF is prepared to establish or support a force within the MNF to provide for the security of personnel and facilities of the United Nations."[230]

164. The FCO wrote to update us on the security protection afforded to the UN in Iraq:

Under the provisions of UNSCR 1546, there is a distinct force under MNF command providing security to the UN presence in Iraq. Protection is formed by three concentric rings a) an inner ring comprised of a Fijian guard force (155 troops) and personal security details for the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Qazi b) a middle ring UN protection force providing convoy protection and perimeter security to UN facilities and c) outer ring security provided by the Multi-National Force (MNF). The UK and US are currently providing middle ring protection while UN protection forces deploy. President Iliescu announced in November that Romania would provide an infantry company of 100 troops for UN protection. Similarly Georgia has also agreed to increase its troop commitments from 159 to 850 with the additional troops being deployed for UN protection.[231]

165. Despite these provisions, the poor security situation continues to preclude the return of the UN in significant numbers. Nevertheless, the UN will have a crucial role to play in assisting the constitutional process, arranging the referendum and organising general elections following the constitution's adoption.

166. In addition to encouraging and assisting the UN to play a greater role in Iraq, the United Kingdom and its international partners could also provide assistance in other areas. Joost Hilterman wrote to us about the role of the international community in addressing the situation in Kirkuk:

The United States has contented itself with telling the Kurds it insists on Iraq's territorial integrity and with preventing major violence from breaking out. It has failed so far, however, to formulate a pro-active policy to accommodate the concerns of all communities in Kirkuk, including the return of displaced Kurds and Turkomans and the fate of those brought in by the previous regimes as part of a strategy of Arabisation. Under the interim constitution (the Transitional Administrative Law) the question of Kirkuk was excluded (specifically postponed) from the drafting of the permanent constitution. However, if, in determining the nature of Iraq's political structure, the drafters of the constitution reach a decision to establish a federal Kurdish region, they will have to delineate the boundaries of such a region; this will inevitably raise the issue of Kirkuk. More insidiously, in the absence of a political settlement in Kirkuk and a passive US attitude, the Kurds are able to continue to "create facts" on the ground, thereby upsetting the delicate political balance in the governorate and making a peaceful solution more difficult.[232]

Dr Hilterman proposed appointing a UN Special Rapporteur for Kirkuk and possibly of a UN Supervisor with powers to impose law.[233]

167. The FCO wrote to us about the work it is doing to prevent a serious escalation in tension in Kirkuk. One of the roles of the British Embassy Office in the north of Iraq is to "facilitate dialogue among the different communities and to help develop constructive ideas to build inclusive political institutions in this most ethnically diverse part of the country."[234] This work involves regular contact with Kurdish and other political leaders. The Global Conflict Prevention Pool is a potential source of funding for conflict prevention efforts in Kirkuk (it has already provided £38,000 to support the creation of an Independent Media Resource Centre in Kirkuk, led by an ethnically mixed Media Commission).[235]

168. We conclude that it is essential that the international community, and especially the US and United Kingdom, refrain from interfering in Iraqi politics and decision making. Nevertheless, there is an important role for the international community in Iraq. We recommend that the Government do all it can to facilitate the UN's role in Iraq, both in terms of providing security assistance in Iraq and through support in the Security Council. We further recommend that the Government consider the case for a UN Special Rapporteur to Kirkuk.

Bilateral relations

169. The United Kingdom is represented in Iraq through the Embassy in Baghdad and Consulates-General in Basrah and Kirkuk. In its response to our last Report, the FCO updated us on the size of the United Kingdom's diplomatic presence: "The Embassy has 105 staff, including DFID consultants and police and defence advisers. The Consulate-General in Basrah consists of 94 staff, including police and prison advisers and DFID consultants. The mission in Kirkuk is a one-man post."[236]

170. Given the security situation, the safety of British personnel is a key concern. In its response to our last Report, the Government told us:

The Government is taking all steps possible to ensure the safety of our personnel in Iraq. We have provided secure compounds for our missions in Baghdad and Basrah, which are located in the "International Zones" in both cities. The missions are guarded by trained Armor Group personnel. Outside the international zones, our staff travels in armoured vehicles under the protection of trained personnel from Control Risks Group. There is a dedicated security manager at each post. The FCO Overseas Security Adviser visits both posts regularly and his recommendations have been put into effect. Our one-man mission in Kirkuk is located in a well-guarded US compound.[237]

171. The constraints imposed by the security situation also have consequences for the effectiveness of the British Embassy. We heard from our witnesses about the problems this presents. Damien McElroy told us:

They are tremendously hamstrung by the security situation. They cannot physically leave an area about two miles square without a personal protection team and when you think about the logistics of just making an appointment outside the office, well, if you are going to want to make an approach to someone, in many cases they do not have an extensive list of contacts and they rely on people coming to them rather than them getting out to meet people.[238]

172. We recommend that the Government provide an update in its response to this Report on the current status of the United Kingdom's diplomatic presence in Iraq and on the security provisions for the safety of personnel. We conclude that the effectiveness of the United Kingdom's Embassy and Consulates-General is hindered by the limits on movement imposed by security considerations, but that the safety of personnel is paramount. There are also issues of continuity given the short postings of many of those in Iraq. We recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report what steps it is taking to enhance the effectiveness of the United Kingdom's diplomatic presence in Iraq and to ensure continuity of policy and approach.

133   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 5-6. Back

134   "Iraq car bombing causes carnage", BBC News Online, 28 February 2005. Back

135   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 4-8. Back

136   The elections are discussed in more detail in paras 145-49. See also Ev 64. Back

137   "Wave of suicide attacks puts Shia message of restraint to test", Financial Times, 21 February 2005. Back

138   "Archbishop abducted in Iraq", BBC News Online, 18 January 2005. Back

139   "A military solution means more violence", Tribune, 25 February 2005. Back

140   Ev 30-31 Back

141   Ev 64 Back

142   Q 2 [Karadaghi] Back

143   "Strengthening Iraqi Military and Security Forces", Anthony Cordesman, CSIS, 17 February 2005, available at: Back

144   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 9-10; and HC (2003-04) 81, para 25. Back

145   Ev 133 Back

146   Ev 65 Back

147   We discuss the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda in more detail in paras 16-22. Back

148   Uncorrected transcript of oral evidence given to the Liaison Committee, 8 February 2005, to be published as HC 318-I, Q 5. Back

149   "PM meets the Iraqi Prime Minister", 19 September 2004, available at: Back

150   Ev 132 Back

151   Ev 133 Back

152   Ibid. Back

153   HC (2003-04) 441-I, para 42 Back

154   Ev 133 Back

155   Qq 16-17 [Karadaghi] Back

156   "Mosul: Northern powder-keg?", BBC News Online, 21 December 2004. Back

157   Ev 133 Back

158   Ev 134 Back

159   "A military solution means more violence", Tribune, 25 February 2005. Back

160   "Talking with the enemy", Time, 28 February 2005. Back

161   Q 27 [McElroy] Back

162   HC (2003-04) 81, para 96. Back

163   HC (2003-04) 441-I paras 89-95 Back

164   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, September 2004, Cm 6340, para 67. Back

165   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 55-64.; and HC (2003-04) 81, paras 94 & 106. Back

166   HC (2003-04) 441-I, para 64 Back

167   Corrected transcript of oral evidence given to the International Development Committee, 18 February 2005, to be published as HC 244-I, Q 101 Back

168   Ibid., Q 137 Back

169   Ibid., Q 137 Back

170   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 35-41. Back

171   Ev 65 Back

172   "Special Defense Department Briefing on Iraq Security Forces", Lieutenant General David Petraeus, Commander, Multinational Security, 4 February 2005, available at: Back

173   Uncorrected transcript of oral evidence given to the Liaison Committee, 8 February 2005, to be published as HC 318-I, Q13; and HC Deb, 31 January, col 575. Back

174   "Iraqis" Readiness Disputed in Hearing", The Washington Post, 20 January 2005. Back

175   "US Department of Defense News Briefing", 3 February 2005, available at: Back

176   HC Deb, 10 January 2005, col 4 Back

177   "Iraqis" Readiness Disputed in Hearing", The Washington Post, 20 January 2005. Back

178   "Section 2207 Report on Iraq Relief and Reconstruction", Quarterly Update to Congress, 2207 Report, Bureau of Resource Management, 5 January 2005, available at: Back

179   "Strengthening Iraqi Military and Security Forces", Center for Strategic and International Studies, 17 February 2005. Back

180   Ev 65 Back

181   Ev 136-7 Back

182   Ev 133 Back

183   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 18-20; and HC (2003-04) 81, para 28. Back

184   Q 27 [Karadaghi] Back

185   "Syria "gave up" brother of Saddam", BBC News Online, 27 February 2005. Back

186   Ev 81-82 Back

187   Mujaheddin-e-Khalq Back

188   HC Deb, 1 March 2005, col 799. Back

189   Ev 65 Back

190   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 21-26; and HC (2003-04) 81, para 37. Back

191   Ev 56 Back

192   "US Coalition sees allies step up pace of pull-out", The Financial Times, 27 January 2005; "Ukraine announces Iraq pull-out", BBC News Online, 10 January 2005; "Portuguese police back from Iraq", BBC News Online, 10 February 2005; "Hungary announces Iraq pull-out", BBC News Online, 3 November 2004 Back

193   "US and Europe unite on Iraq aid", BBC News Online, 22 February 2005. Back

194   "US gives up search for Iraq WMD", BBC News Online, 12 January 2005 Back

195   "Report concludes no WMD in Iraq", BBC News Online, 7 October 2004. Back

196   HC 318-I, 8 February 2005, Q 9 Back

197   Ev 115 Back

198   Ev 87 Back

199   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 131-138 Back

200   "US troops lower profile in fighting Iraqi insurgents", Financial Times, 24 February 2005. Back

201   HC 318-I, 8 February 2005, Q 9 Back

202   HC (2003-04) 441-I, para 96-127 Back

203   "Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program", IOM, 4 February 2005, available at: Back

204   "Shia coalition wins 48% of Iraq vote to end the Sunni domination", Financial Times, 14 February 2005; and "A military solution means more violence", Toby Dodge, Tribune, 25 February 2005. Back

205   Ev 134 Back

206   HC Deb, 31 January 2005, col 574. Back

207   "Iraq: Electoral Fact Sheet", UN, available at: Back

208   "First Report: Preliminary Assessments of January 30 Election Process", International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE), available at: Back

209   "IMIE Publishes Preliminary Assessments of Iraqi Elections", International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE) Press Release, 30 January 2005, available at: Back

210   "Shia coalition wins 48% of Iraq vote to end the Sunni domination", Financial Times, 14 February 2005. Back

211   "Iraqi Election", BBC News Online, 13 February 2005. Back

212   "Law of the Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period", 8 March 2004, Article 61. Back

213   See paras 104-09. Back

214   Ev 134 Back

215   Ev 134 Back

216   HC (2003-04) 441-I, para 98 and p3. Back

217   Ibid., p43. Back

218   "Law of the Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period", 8 March 2004, Article 62. Back

219   Ev 136 Back

220   "Clash over "Kurdish veto" looms in Iraq", Financial Times, 19 February 2005 Back

221   Ev 137 Back

222   "Iraq: Allaying Turkey"s Fears over Kurdish Ambitions", International Crisis Group, 26 January 2005, available at: Back

223   "Iraq: Allaying Turkey"s Fears over Kurdish Ambitions", International Crisis Group, 26 January 2005, available at: Back

224   Ev 135 Back

225   "Law of the Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period", 8 March 2004, Article 58c. Back

226   Ev 91 Back

227   Ev 136 Back

228   Ev 64 Back

229   HC (2003-04) 441-I, para 111-15 Back

230   Ibid., para 119 Back

231   Ev 66 Back

232   Ev 135 Back

233   Ibid. Back

234   Ev 82 Back

235   Ibid. Back

236   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, September 2004, Cm 6340. Back

237   Ibid. Back

238   Q 30 [McElroy] Back

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