1 Introduction |
1. This is the seventh Report in a series on foreign
policy aspects of the 'war against terrorism'. Our predecessor
Committee launched this inquiry following the 11 September 2001
terrorist attacks in the USA. These Reports, supplemented by other
Reports on the decision to go to war in Iraq, on British-US
relations and on human rights, have contributed to the ongoing
debate on both the causes of terrorism and the United Kingdom's
response to it. During the course of the inquiry, the Committee
has discussed wide and varied themes, such as the fall of the
Taliban and efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, shifts in the organisation
of al Qaeda, the war and subsequent situation in Iraq, multilateral
efforts to tackle terrorist financing and global work to prevent
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
2. In this Report, we return to a number of these
themes. We discuss the fast developing situations in Israel and
the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Iran. However, for the first
time we also discuss in some detail the United Kingdom's relations
with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the role of
these two countries in the international 'war against terrorism'.
Both countries were linked to the attacks of 11 September: fifteen
of the nineteen suicide aeroplane hijackers were Saudi citizens;
two were UAE nationals. In addition, both Saudi Arabia and the
UAE have significant experience fighting terrorism, both through
security-based counter-terrorism measures and by tackling the
causes of terrorism through educational reform and cooperation
with religious authorities. Not only are both countries key allies
in the fight against international terrorism, but there is also
much that could be learned from their efforts to understand and
thwart recruitment of extremists.
3. Although for consistency with our previous Reports
we have entitled this one 'Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against
Terrorism', we have come to the conclusion that the phrase 'war
against terrorism' is inappropriate. The phrase may initially
have seemed an adequate description for international efforts
in the context of the attacks of 11 September and subsequent action
against the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, it does not adequately
describe what has become a multi-faceted and complex international
effort to thwart terrorist attacks across the globe simultaneously
with attempts to address the background to international terrorism.
We shall give further consideration to providing a more appropriate
phrase when we produce our next Report on countering terrorism.
4. If any reminder were needed of the continuing
threat posed by international terrorism, on 7 July 2005 four suicide
attacks in London left 56 dead and hundreds injured. The bombers
were British, but their crimes were committed against a backdrop
of global terrorism. In March 2006, the FCO published its new
strategy document "Active Diplomacy for a Changing World."
This document sets out nine strategic international priorities
for the United Kingdom:
- Making the world safer from
global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
- Reducing the harm to the UK from international
crime, including drug trafficking, people smuggling and money
- Preventing and resolving conflict through a strong
- Building an effective and globally competitive
EU in a secure neighbourhood.
- Supporting the UK economy and business through
an open and expanding global economy, science and innovation and
secure energy supplies.
- Promoting sustainable development and poverty
reduction underpinned by human rights, democracy, good governance
and protection of the environment.
- Managing migration and combating illegal immigration.
- Delivering high-quality support for British nationals
abroad, in normal times and in crises.
- Ensuring the security and good governance of
the UK's Overseas Territories.
5. Many of these priorities are relevant to international
efforts to fight terrorism and the circumstances in which extremism
and terrorism flourish. Critically, the document states that "The
priorities cannot be pursued in isolation. They intersect in many
of the urgent international problems the UK faces, such as the
search for peace in the Middle East and South Asia, the reconstruction
of Afghanistan and Iraq, or dealing more effectively with poverty
and conflict around the world." Throughout the course of
the Committee's inquiry into foreign policy aspects of the 'war
against terrorism', it has become clear not only that the 'war
against terrorism' must consider wider and more complex issues
than terrorism itself, but that the development and implementation
of policy to protect British interests must be carried out as
part of a coherent foreign policy strategy.
6. Much of the evidence taken for this Report was
received before the change of Foreign Secretary, and therefore
was provided by Jack Straw ahead of the appointment of Margaret
Beckett in May 2006. We heard oral evidence from Jack Straw on
three occasions. We also held discussions with senior figures
at the UN in New York, with members of the US Administration in
Washington DC, with key personnel in the European Commission and
with ministers, politicians, senior officials and others in Saudi
Arabia, the UAE, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Iraq.
We also heard formal and informal evidence from a range of witnesses
and received written evidence from a variety of sources; we express
our thanks to all of these.
1 Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Active Diplomacy
for a Changing World: The UK's International Priorities, Cm
6762, March 2006. In June 2006, the new Foreign Secretary, Margaret
Beckett, added a further strategic priority of climate change. Back