Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fourth Report

6  Iraq

Security situation

Further deterioration

223. In previous Reports in the inquiry our predecessor Committee outlined the deterioration in the security situation in Iraq.[275] The Reports also described the various types of violence in Iraq, ranging from 'high-profile' insurgent attacks aimed at the Iraqi security forces as well as individuals connected with the political process to the "tide of rampant criminality" that has emerged in the security vacuum and has affected all sectors of Iraqi society.[276] Regrettably, the security situation has deteriorated still further since the last Report. Against a backdrop of continuing and already brutal violence, an attack on the al-Askari shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006 prompted widespread protests and unleashed a wave of sectarian conflict.[277] The shrine is one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam and the attack was almost certainly intended to exacerbate sectarian tension. There has also been renewed concern over the role of foreign forces with reports of the alleged massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha by US marines in November 2005.[278]

224. The upsurge in violence has prompted concern that the country is slipping into civil conflict, despite calls for restraint by religious and political leaders. In an indication of the size of the problem, on 10 May 2006 Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said more than 1,000 people were killed in April 2006 in Baghdad as a result of sectarian violence.[279] Following the Samarra bombing, hundreds of Iraqis fled their homes.[280] A Red Crescent Society report on the refugee problem in Iraq concluded that more than 100,000 people fled their homes in the two months following the Samarra attack.[281] According to the report, this number is increasing and could soon reach 180,000; the refugees include both Sunnis and Shias.

225. On 5 March 2006, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said that Iraq was not on the verge of civil war, but added that Iraqis had "walked up to the abyss" with the escalation in violence. This followed comments by US Commander in Iraq General George Casey, who we met during our visit to Iraq in January 2006, who refused to rule out the possibility of civil war, saying that "anything is possible".[282] Meanwhile, former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has gone on the record saying that civil war has already broken out, although this view has been challenged by Iraqi as well as US and British politicians.[283]

226. Our witnesses were all deeply concerned about the security situation. Zaki Chehab, Political Editor of the Arab daily newspaper al Hayat, told us that although the Samarra bombing was clearly important, "the sectarian killing started in Iraq straight after the fall of the regime."[284] Asked whether Iraq is already in a state of civil war, Yahia Said, Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics, told us:

    [T]he answer depends on how one defines civil war. If civil war is defined in terms of loss of security, in terms of the fact that there is a myriad of arms factions, militias, armed groups, and that the threat to Iraqi civilian lives and property can come from any of these groups—and in a way the groups are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from one another: for example, terrorists dressed as policemen; Shi'a militias working through the police units; Sunni insurgents dressed as military units —a situation like that could be defined as civil war, as a breakdown of the state's monopoly on legitimate violence and pervasive and systemic violence. However, if one looks at civil war and thinks "Bosnia: a sort of all-out sectarian war" then Iraq is not there yet. However, Iraq is getting very close to that moment because, increasingly, not only are political elites, who have started to define themselves in ethnic terms, confronting each other, but also society is beginning to get polarised along ethnic and sectarian lines. [285]

227. Describing the level of insecurity in and around the capital, Zaki Chehab told us: "Not a single road which connects the capital with any of the main cities in Iraq is safe."[286] The security arrangements for our visit to Iraq in January 2006 were certainly more rigorous than for visits to Iraq by our predecessor Committee. The last Report in this inquiry noted that despite the poor security situation, the violence had not spread throughout the country.[287] In its response to that Report, the Government emphasised the point that "much of Iraq is secure… Ten provinces, including those in the Multi National Division (South East), account for less than 2% of attacks."[288] Although there remain areas that are quieter than others, our witnesses were concerned that the calmer areas are those that are homogenous in terms of ethnic and sectarian groups. We were told: "[T]he violence is concentrated in mixed areas. Everywhere where there is a co-existence of the various components of the Iraqi society there is violence: Mosul, Kirkuk, Hella, Baghdad and the areas around it. Indeed, the western areas, the ethnically homogenous, western areas of Iraq are relatively quiet, apart from insurgency operations against coalition troops and counterinsurgency operations by these troops." [289]

228. Indeed, one of the most alarming aspects of the situation has been the sectarian dimension of the violence. Our witnesses told us about some of the factors feeding into the emergence of sectarian divisions. They told us that Iraq does not have a history of sectarian conflict:

    [H]owever we have seen sectarianism grow in Iraq, especially over the last three years. There have been many factors that have played a role in that. The most important among them is of course al Qaeda terrorism, which was always designed to foment sectarian war - always that was the intention of al Qaeda—however, there were other factors. Unfortunately a lot of the actions of Multinational Forces in Iraq have contributed to increasing sectarian polarisation; for example, using Iraqi units comprised mainly of Shi'a and Kurdish militias in Sunni areas or defining Shi'a parties and Kurdish parties as allies and defining Sunni parties as enemies. This has contributed to the polarisation. This policy had been reversed over the last six months as it became evident how counter-productive it is. However, it may be too late to prevent an all-out sectarian polarisation in the country. [290]

229. We have already discussed the importance of Iraq to al Qaeda, which has made tremendous propaganda and training gains from its experience in Iraq.[291] Zaki Chehab also told us about the importance that al Qaeda attaches to fomenting sectarian conflict in Iraq: "I believe the bombing of Samarra, the religious site, was carried out by Zarqawi after he felt that Sunnis for the first time in Iraq started having some kind of dialogue with the Americans—especially the influential Sunni tribes and the ones who are close to the insurgency... The only environment where Zarqawi can benefit is from seeing a Sunni-Shi'a sectarian war taking place." [292]

230. Previous Reports in this inquiry have noted the failure of Iraq's neighbours to take sufficient steps to prevent foreign fighters from entering and leaving Iraq.[293] This remains a concern. During our visit to Iraq we heard that cross-border cooperation with Syria has improved, but that the border remains porous and a number of prominent former Ba'athists continue to live in Syria. While we were in Saudi Arabia, we heard great concern over the movement of militants to and from Iraq and the spur this is providing to terrorism within the Kingdom.[294] We also discuss the role that Iran has played in Iraq, and in particular links between Iran and the use of increasingly deadly improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

231. In addition to the violence perpetrated by al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents, Iraqis continue to endure a pervasive sense of insecurity:

    The danger to Iraqi life and limb and property can come from any corner. It can come as collateral damage from counterinsurgency operations; it can come from criminal elements—and criminality is a very important factor in the violence taking place in Iraq today, criminality, either in its own right or dressed up as ethnic sectarian violence or as insurgency operations; it can come from rogue elements in the security forces; it can come from terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. So there is a myriad of actors. This is the most frustrating thing for Iraqi civilians today, that they do not feel safe… Today, violence for most Iraqi civilians is inexplicable: they do not understand why they are being targeted and for what reason. [295]

During the Committee's visit to Iraq, we heard about the problem of endemic crime, with organised crime, smuggling and kidnapping posing particular problems.

232. We conclude that the continued deterioration in the security situation in Iraq is extremely worrying, as are the deepening sectarian and ethnic dimensions of the violence. We further conclude that Iraq's neighbours have yet to take sufficient steps to prevent the movement of insurgents across Iraq's borders, although we note that the length and porous nature of these borders make this task extremely difficult.


233. Previous Reports in this inquiry have discussed efforts to build the new Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Our predecessor Committee noted the growing strength as well as the great bravery of the ISF, which were credited with much of the success of the January 2005 election.[296] However, the Committee also noted very serious concerns over both numbers and capability. In its response to the last Report in this inquiry, the Government said: "Helping the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to take over security progressively within Iraq is one of the Government's prime objectives. The Government continues to develop training programmes and provide equipment to develop the Iraqi police and military."[297] The Government went on to set out the progress that had been made at that point, listing the numbers trained and equipped and outlining international cooperation in this training.

234. In October 2005, the former Foreign Secretary told us:

    The other thing that has happened for the good—and this has been, again, a very big change in the last year—is that approximately 170,000 more Iraqi security forces have been trained up. Their ability to operate independently of the US, UK and other coalition forces varies considerably. There are two battalions that can operate entirely independently, but a great many can operate effectively with backing from the coalition. That has been a big change. The progress with the defence forces has been better than progress with the police in some areas where problems remain.[298]

Despite all this good work, concerns remain over the slow progress of building up the ISF. In a recent article, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) outlined some of the issues. Cordesman notes that Iraq is making real progress in many aspects of its force development, but that there has been "a dangerous tendency to spin analysis and coverage of Iraqi force development" around the status of the regular army. The police and border police have little effective equipment, major facility problems, weak training and serious manpower quality problems. These forces have also been linked with death squads and poor discipline. In addition, many police units are linked with particular ethnic or sectarian groups. Turning to Iraq's regular forces, only the Army and Special Operations Forces have any real effectiveness and there remain concerns over combat capability.[299] We heard about many of these problems during our visit to Iraq.

235. Links between the ISF and death squads have been particularly worrisome. Zaki Chehab told us about this: "Yesterday the American forces have announced that they have arrested more than 40 Iraqi policemen who were involved in death squads. Two weeks ago, the Ministry of the Interior came out to say, 'We managed to arrest 450 people who have joined the police force and they were part of al Qaeda or something, and they were trying to plan to attack the Green Zone.'" [300] The US State Department's annual human rights report, which was published in March 2006, includes a damning critique of the state of human rights in Iraq, describing a weak and corrupt government with little control over its own security forces.[301] The report highlights the problems of extra-legal killings, arbitrary detention and torture committed by members of the ISF, both police and military.

236. A recent report by the International Crisis Group into the insurgency emphasises the importance the legitimacy of the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces in the fight against insurgents. It notes: "The harm from excessive use of force, torture, tactics that inflict widespread civilian injury and reliance on sectarian militias outweighs any military gain."[302] In particular, the report notes the importance that international allies in Iraq "hold the new government accountable and make clear that long-term relations, economic aid and military cooperation depend on disbanding militias, halting political killings and respecting human rights."

237. Yahia Said links the problem with difficulties establishing national legitimacy: "Security Forces are a matter of nationalism. Security Forces ride not necessarily on equipment and efficiency but on legitimacy, and it is very difficult to built legitimate armed forces and Security Forces under foreign tutelage—especially if the issue of the foreign presence is so contentious in society." [303] However, he also highlighted the failures of Coalition policy:

    As long as the Americans were trying to build the Iraqi Armed Forces in a rigorous way, trying to avoid the incorporation of militias, trying to build an ethnically mixed armed force with loyalty to the state, the process was going very slowly, because very few of Iraqi nationalists or patriots were willing to join the Armed Forces and people were joining them for material gain more than anything else. As soon as the Americans started to accelerate that timetable by trying to incorporate the militias, that process went faster, but these people had an entirely different motivation than that one would expect from the Armed Forces. They were joining it to pursue their own agenda, their own sectarian and ethnic agenda. As we see today, especially in the recent events in recent days, these Armed Forces are very happy to break ranks with the Americans and the British who have trained them, as long as they perceive any conflict of interest there. [304]

The last Report in this inquiry noted the danger that relying on Shia and Kurdish communities to build up the ISF risked "sowing the seeds of future ethnic and sectarian conflict"[305] In its Response, the Government said: "The UK, along with the Iraqi government and partners from the Multi-National Force, is aware of the dangers of associating particular ethnic groups with branches of the ISF and the UK is working with the Iraqi authorities to minimise this."[306] Nevertheless, there are clear concerns over the hardening of sectarian identity in Iraq. At the end of February 2006, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad warned the USA would cut funding for Iraq's security services unless the new Iraqi government appointed 'non-sectarian' ministers of the interior, defence and national intelligence, saying: "We're not going to invest the resources of the American people to build forces run by people who are sectarian".[307]

238. We conclude that despite continued hard work to build up the Iraqi Security Forces, and the dedication and bravery of many of the members of those forces, they remain a long way from being able to take the lead on security across Iraq. We further conclude that relying on Shia and Kurdish communities to build up the Iraqi Security Forces has contributed to the development of sectarian forces and that this is regrettable in the volatile security and political environment in Iraq. We recommend that the Government continue to work with its international partners to address this problem and make clear to the Iraqi authorities the importance of legitimate national Security Forces. We further recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report what steps it is taking to assist the Iraqi authorities to establish a security infrastructure that respects human rights.


239. On 13 March 2006, then Defence Secretary John Reid announced a reduction in the number of British forces in Iraq:

240. The Prime Minister has consistently refused to set out a timetable for the withdrawal from Iraq. The Government's long-standing policy has been to support the development of the ISF and hand over to them as and when they are able to take the lead on security.[309] In its last Report in this inquiry, our predecessor Committee asked the Government to set out its plans to hand over to the ISF. The Government responded by saying:

    During 2005 there will be a progressive transition from MNF leading on counter insurgency effort to the Iraqis taking the lead. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have already become increasingly involved in or led in, operations in Fallujah, Najaf, Samarra, North Babil and Baghdad… The Government wants British forces to leave Iraq as soon as possible, but not until the job is done. The UK will stay in Iraq for as long as it takes to ensure Iraqi Security Forces are able to take responsibility for Iraq's security, and as long as the Iraqi Government wants us to stay.[310]

241. On 19 June Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki announced that the ISF would take over control of security in July in the southern province of Muthana, where 250 British troops are currently based along with Australian and Japanese forces. Prime Minister Malaki was reported as saying that his government plan gradually to take over security for all Iraq's provinces within the next eighteen months. The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, stated that "What it does is begin the process which will eventually lead to our ability to draw down our forces in Iraq. A great deal of work remains to be done and I am under no illusions about the challenges we face. We and our coalition allies remain determined to see the job through."[311] Japan subsequently announced its intention to withdraw its forces from Iraq. The last Japanese troops are expected to leave by late July.[312]

242. In addition to concerns over the slow progress of building up the ISF, there are fears that the presence of foreign forces is exacerbating the security situation and stoking the insurgency. While in Iraq we were told that in some areas there is no insurgent activity other than that provoked by the presence of foreign forces. This fact supports the case for withdrawal from these areas, as does the argument that by remaining in Iraq, foreign forces are simply making themselves a target for insurgents. Moreover, withdrawal need not be total; for example, a force could remain to protect oil installations. However, there are also concerns that the country could collapse into civil war in the event that foreign forces withdraw too soon. Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution think-tank recently warned that if the US pulled out precipitately the Iraqi state would collapse very quickly. "Civil war has already begun in Iraq. Our presence is simply keeping it simmering at a low level".[313]

243. We asked our witnesses whether they thought that it might be possible for the multi-national forces to withdraw from relatively quiet areas. Yahia Said was pessimistic about this:

    If you had asked me this question about a month or two months ago, I would have definitely answered that it is necessary to get into an accelerated timetable for withdrawal and that a lot of the multinational forces' actions are causing more harm than good. However, the situation is very dynamic now in Iraq. There have been significant changes over the last few months and especially since the attack on Samarra, and, with an impeding threat of sectarian civil war, there is a clear case for a multinational force to protect civilians and to prevent a slide into civil war. [314]

Yahia Said added a stark warning about early withdrawal:

    Just to give you a comparison of the situation in Iraq today, think of Iraq today as the early days of the war in Bosnia. Do you really want to leave? That is when everybody was calling for the international community to intervene, to stop the bloodshed. It is a situation similar in other ways. This is sectarian bloodshed that is being heralded through free elections. The war in Yugoslavia started after a set of free elections and referenda that brought nationalists to power. We are facing very similar dilemmas.[315]

Zaki Chehab also opposed the early withdrawal of multilateral forces. He told us: "If you withdraw, you are just handing a victory to al Qaeda and militancy and all these elements."[316] Many of the people we met in Iraq were also insistent that any quick withdrawal could be harmful.

244. Nevertheless, there could be some merit in setting out a timetable for withdrawal. Yahia Said told us:

    I still think there is a benefit from having a timetable for withdrawal, albeit an extended one. That is because a big part of the violence in Iraq and a big irritant in Iraq is a suspicion that the forces are there to stay, that Iraq will never be free. So the timetable will offer a signal to Iraqis that these forces will leave as soon as the situation stabilises. [317]

However, we heard strongly expressed alternative views during our visit to Iraq: we were told by senior Iraqi political figures that setting a timetable for withdrawal would send out all the wrong signals and that withdrawal should be tied to the achievement of various political and security milestones.

245. We recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report the circumstances under which it would withdraw British forces from Iraq. We further recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report the findings of the 'joint committee to transfer security responsibility'.


246. Concern remains over the number of detainees held by coalition forces. Jack Straw told us about the detainees:

    There is obviously a quantitative difference; the Americans have 14,000 in detention and we have 40 or so... There are discussions taking place at the moment between the Americans and the Iraqis about the future of these detainees but… it should not be assumed that there is unanimity amongst either Iraqi politicians, or amongst the Iraqi public, about whether these people should be released. There are vocal calls always by some groups for the release of some detainees, but alongside that there will be very strong demands by other groups who may have been the victims of terrorism by a particular faction for these people to stay locked up.[318]

247. We conclude that, in the context of the insurgency and the appalling level of violence, detention will continue to be necessary; however, the level of such detentions is a problem for coalition forces too and for the United Kingdom's image in the region. Wherever and whenever possible such detainees should be handed over to the Iraqi government for trial. We recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report the current number and status of detainees held by the United Kingdom in Iraq, including the basis for their detention, as well as any plans to transfer them to Iraqi or US custody or to subject them to due judicial process. We also recommend that the Government provide in its response the latest information it has as to the number of detainees being held by the USA in Iraq and the number being held by the Iraqi authorities.

Private military and security companies

248. There also remain concerns about the regulation of private military and security companies in Iraq and elsewhere. It has been estimated that there are now 20,000 private security personnel in Iraq.[319] Our predecessor Committee noted concerns about the use of such firms.[320] In July 2004, the Committee concluded that "the increase in the use of private military of security companies in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last two years has added to the case for regulation of these companies, where appropriate, by the British Government. We recommend that the Government either bring forward legislation to introduce a regulatory regime for private military companies, or explain in full its reasons for not doing so."[321] The Government responded as follows:

    The Government agrees with the Committee that the growth in the size and importance of this industry strengthens the case for regulation of UK private military and security companies operating overseas. Developing such regulation is a complex undertaking, as set out in the Government's Green Paper "Private Military Companies", published on 12 February 2002. There are a number of difficult questions of definition in deciding how to approach such regulation. And the cost of regulation is potentially high, for both government and industry. Nonetheless, the Foreign Secretary has asked officials to undertake a further detailed review of options for regulation. The Government will keep the Committee fully informed of its thinking in this area.[322]

249. On 6 December 2005, Minister of State Ian Pearson wrote to the Committee about the status of the FCO's review of policy on Private Military Security Companies:

    As announced to parliament in September 2004, the Foreign Secretary commissioned a detailed review of policy options for the regulation of Private Military and Security Companies. This was aimed at following up on the FCO's Green Paper of 2002. The review focused on the complex issues of definition, regulation, and enforcement and was completed in June 2005. The Foreign Secretary is now discussing its recommendations with Ministerial colleagues. Parliament will be informed of any decision.[323]

250. We pursued the issue by writing to the FCO with a number of specific questions. In January 2006, the Government informed us about the rules of engagement for such firms. The operation of private security companies in Iraq is regulated by CPA Memorandum No 17; Annex A to CPA Memorandum No 17 sets out binding rules on the use of force which apply to all private security companies in Iraq.[324] We also asked about the applicability of criminal law to: a) personnel working for companies under contract to provide security services to HMG in Iraq; (b) personnel working for British companies under contract to provide security services to other governments or to international bodies in Iraq; and (c) British citizens working for foreign companies under contract to provide security services to other governments or to international bodies in Iraq. The Government told us:

    In general, the criminal law of Iraq applies to crimes committed within the territory of Iraq and the application of this law is not affected by the nationality of the perpetrator or the identity of a person's employer. Personnel employed by private security companies in Iraq may, however, enjoy immunity in some circumstances from the jurisdiction of the Iraqi courts.

    Foreign nationals working in Iraq may in some cases remain subject to the criminal law of their state of nationality. The scope of application of such extra-territorial jurisdiction will depend on the legal system of each state.

    Category (a): Personnel employed by Control Risks Group and ArmorGroup in Iraq are notified to the Iraqi Government as members of the Administrative and Technical Staff of the British Embassy. This status means that they are entitled to immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the Iraqi courts, although such immunity may be waived. The FCO is currently reviewing the conferral of this status on these personnel.

    Category (b): By virtue of CPA Order No 17 (Revised) (attached as Annex C), all non-Iraqi personnel working under contract in Iraq for (i) the MNF-I; (ii) a body engaged in humanitarian, development or reconstruction efforts; or (iii) any foreign diplomatic or consular mission are required to respect the laws of Iraq, except that they are not subject to Iraqi laws or regulations in matters relating to the terms and conditions of their contracts. Private Security Companies are however required to comply with any CPA legislation regulating the activities of such companies. Such contractors are immune from the jurisdiction of the Iraqi courts with respect to acts performed pursuant to the terms and conditions of their contract, but this immunity may be waived by the State that has employed the contractor.

    Iraqi nationals in categories (a) and (b) have no immunity.

    Category (c): The position of British citizens working for foreign companies under contract to provide security services to foreign diplomatic missions in Iraq or to international bodies engaged in humanitarian, development or reconstruction efforts is the same as for other non-Iraqi personnel in category (b).

    In addition, if a contractor of British nationality (in any category) were to commit a criminal offence in Iraq it is possible that in some circumstances he could be prosecuted in this country. This would depend on whether extra-territorial jurisdiction exists for the offence under English law. The CPS would assess whether to bring a prosecution in accordance with the normal requirements laid down in the Code for Crown prosecutors, ie whether there was a realistic prospect of a conviction and whether it was in the public interest to bring a prosecution here.[325]

251. The Government also provided the Committee with examples of the type of contract reached with companies providing security services to HMG in Iraq. Asked about how compliance by private companies is monitored, the Government told us:

    Day to day contract management is carried out by the Overseas Security Manager at Post overseen by the Deputy Head of Mission with support from FCO London (Iraq Policy Unit, Iraq Resource Management Unit, Security Management Directorate and Procurement Strategy Unit).

    The Overseas Security Manager ensures that the Private Security Companies have the agreed number of staff on the ground, that they comply with FCO security procedures, that they maintain effectively FCO supplied security equipment, and that, in FCO parlance, they do not bring the FCO into disrepute. Any transgression of terms of contract would be flagged up by the Overseas Security Manager with senior managers of the contracted security companies at post, and if necessary disciplinary measures taken.[326]

252. We pursued the issue further with the previous Foreign Secretary in March 2006. He told us:

    I am glad you reminded me of this. I will pass on to business managers and others, should the Committee wish it, the concern of your Committee because I, too, wish to see legislation in hand and I have been working on this for the last two weeks. There is a discussion going on about the precise architecture for control. I frankly do not think this is too difficult an issue, because under the Security Industries Act (which I may say was mine when I was Home Secretary) there is the Security Industries Authority which has now got experience of regulating security cameras operating within the UK. Certainly my proposal is to have the same body do the regulation of British companies operating overseas, and indeed some of the ones who operate domestically also operate overseas and that is essentially to determine whether the companies are fit and proper people to operate. Then there is the issue of whether you license individual activities. You can do that, I think, at another adjunct to the arms control arrangements. So I do not think it is a difficult administrative or intellectual challenge, but as ever there is always a queue.[327]

253. We conclude that the Government is making slow progress towards resolving the issue of how to regulate private military and security companies. This is regrettable given the increase in the use of such firms in Iraq and elsewhere. We recommend that the Government accelerate its efforts in this area and that it set out in its response to this Report what measures it plans to take.

Political developments

Further political milestones

254. Previous Reports in this inquiry discussed political developments in Iraq. These included the writing of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), the formation of the Interim Government, and the holding of free and fair elections in January 2005.[328] Since the last Report, several important political milestones have been passed in Iraq.

255. On 15 October 2005, Iraqis voted in favour of the country's new constitution in a nation-wide referendum. The UN endorsed the voting process: most people were able to vote and there was high voter turnout in many areas. Speaking on 16 October 2005, the former Foreign Secretary welcomed the vote: "The referendum yesterday in Iraq is very good news for all Iraqis. Over sixty per cent voted, six thousand three hundred polling stations were opened almost all on time and the whole process took place in remarkable calm given the overall security situation in Iraq. What this referendum shows is the hunger of Iraqis to exercise the same rights that all the rest of us have, democratic rights, and to defy the terrorists."[329]

256. On 15 December 2005, Iraqis went to the polling stations once again to vote in parliamentary elections. The results, which were not announced until late January 2006, showed that the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance took 128 of the 275 seats, ten short of an outright majority. Kurdish parties won 53 seats and the main Sunni Arab bloc 44.[330] However, the elections were followed by four months of political deadlock, which was not broken until 22 April, when President Talabani asked Shia compromise candidate Nouri Maliki to form a new government. It then took a further month before agreement was reached on the composition of that government and its endorsement by Parliament and it was not until the beginning of June that agreement was reached on the posts of Interior and Defence Minister. The new Iraqi government faces a daunting challenge. In addition to security concerns, it will have to work to increase the inclusion of the Sunni community, oversee revisions to the constitution and work to maintain the territorial integrity of the country amid ongoing concerns over its fragmentation.

257. When he met with us in October 2005, the former Foreign Secretary was optimistic about the political process:

    You could come up with a catalogue of bad news but what you are omitting in all of this is the most important message of all this year, 2005, which is this: the Iraqis have embraced democracy. People said we did not understand the nature of Iraqi society, meaning that we did not understand that they did not really want to be democrats; that they did not have any interest and they just wanted to be dominated by tyrants. Well, eight and a half million Iraqis proved those people wrong on 30 January, and 10 million proved them wrong again on 15 October. The Iraqis want what we take for granted, which is the right to run their own affairs; and it is called democracy.[331]

However, speaking to us more recently, Jack Straw was clearly frustrated by the political deadlock in Iraq:

    The vast majority of people in the country are showing faith in democracy. The only problem is that they do have this tendency to do things at the last minute and certainly for us in the British system, where we are used to governments being formed in the space of 24 or 48 hours, it is very odd. Anyway, we have got to stick with it. Of course, I agree with you that it is this vacuum in terms of governance which is certainly making much else in the country more difficult.[332]

258. Our witnesses were also deeply frustrated by the political deadlock. Yahia Said told us:

    The Iraqi political process has strayed off the right track quite a while ago. It is impossible to sit back and allow these Iraqis to work at their problems together. I must caveat that. The outbursts of violence do every now and then shock Iraqi politicians into some responsible action but even then, most recently, the events in the so-called mosque where US military forces attacked a certain militia in Baghdad, the response of the Iraqi politicians is to boycott the government forming negotiations. The country is burning and they get upset with the Americans and punish the Iraqi people. Clearly we have a problem with the Iraqi political classes. [333]

259. In the last Report in this inquiry, the Committee concluded:

    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.[334]

260. This remains true. It also remains the case that the UN is playing a critical role in Iraq, but that it is hindered by the security situation. We heard both in New York and in Iraq about the problems the UN has encountered trying to obtain dedicated air assets in order to assist its work. On 13 June 2006, the Foreign Secretary told us about the possibility that the EU will increase its level of involvement in Iraq: "[O]ne of the other people who came to the Council in Luxembourg yesterday was indeed the new Iraqi Foreign Minister… He was giving the Council an update on the position in Iraq. He was also seeking an expanding role for the European Union… and support from Member States in the UN in order to assist… economic reforms and security reforms… and there seems to me to be quite a warm response to that."[335]

261. We commend the continued commitment of ordinary Iraqis to the democratic process in Iraq and are impressed by the obvious desire on the part of ordinary Iraqis to achieve a more representative political system. We reiterate the conclusion of our predecessor Committee that it is essential that the international community, and especially the USA and United Kingdom, refrain from interfering in Iraqi politics and decision making. Nevertheless, there is an important continuing role for the international community in support of the democratic government 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 recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report what progress has been made on providing security to the UN in Iraq and what plans there are to facilitate a greater UN presence. We further recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report the progress made in establishing EU assistance to Iraq.


262. We discuss elsewhere Iran's links with the insurgency in Iraq as well as its links with terrorism more broadly.[336] There are also concerns about Iran's political influence over Iraq. Yahia Said told us: "Iran has a very big footprint in Iraq, a big influence. It goes through a variety of channels. It has channels to a variety of the actors in Iraq." [337] We heard about these concerns during our visit to Iraq. For example we were told that some elements of the Iraqi Security Forces and in particular the police in the south are pro-Iranian, but that the extent of this sympathy is unclear.

263. When he gave evidence to us in March 2006, the former Foreign Secretary downplayed these concerns: "First of all, there is bound to be a natural association between the Shia in Iran and the Shia in Iraq, although it does not mean that the Shia in Iraq are in the pocket of the Iranians."[338] Moreover: "It is entirely legitimate for Iran to take an interest in its neighbour Iraq. It is not legitimate for it to interfere with it, but if it was our neighbour we would be taking an interest in it."[339] Mr Straw also reassured the Committee that: "[T]here is not seen to be any particular appetite amongst Iraqis for setting up a structure similar to that in Iran. Although it is true that the majority of Iranians are Shia, and in the south and other parts of Iraq a significant proportion of the Iraqis are Shia, the Iraqis are Arab and the Iranians are not Arab, they are Persian."[340]

264. Reflecting how seriously the USA is taking this issue, on 17 March 2006 US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad announced that back-channel discussions were under way with Iran on resuming the direct talks about Iraq that broke off shortly after the 2003 war. Khalilzad described the proposed talks as a chance to express concerns about Iran's policy in Iraq.[341] However, efforts to initiate talks subsequently stalled with Iraqi progress towards forming a government and the decision by the Iranian president to call off the talks.

265. We conclude that concerns over Iranian involvement in Iraq reinforce the need for dialogue and engagement with Tehran. We recommend that the Government engage with both its Iranian and Iraqi counterparts to ease concerns in this area and that it work to encourage Washington to take a similar approach. We further conclude that serious concerns exist over Iranian involvement in Iraq and that the organisation, weaponry and technology for a number of terrorist incidents in Iraq have emanated from within Iran.

Reconstruction and economic development

266. Previous reports in this inquiry have discussed the importance of improving the socio-economic situation of Iraqis in order to give them a stake in the new Iraq and to deprive the insurgents of recruits.[342] The last Report concluded 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… [I]t 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."[343] In its response to that Report, the Government told us: "The Government agrees that the provision of essential services is not yet satisfactory, and that unemployment remains a significant problem. Realistically, it is likely to take years rather than months to put right two decades of under investment in Iraq's infrastructure and the damage caused by sabotage and looting."[344]

267. Three years after the war in Iraq, there remains broad disappointment at the results of reconstruction efforts. According to local government officials, hundreds of schools, public buildings, hospitals, universities and shops are still in desperate need of repair, with less than 35% of projected reconstruction achieved to date. Meanwhile, Iraqis lament the fact that the country's essential infrastructure—water and power facilities—remains in tatters. The lack of basic services remains a source of great bitterness.[345]

268. Coalition officials emphasise the extremely difficult conditions in Iraq. In February 2006, US officials said the reconstruction of Iraq was being undermined by continuing insurgent attacks and was now expected to cost more than the US$56 billion initially projected. According to some estimates, more than 25% of all reconstruction funds have been diverted to security-related issues. [346] During its visit to Iraq in January 2006, the Committee heard that the security situation had considerably increased the cost of reconstruction. However, there is also ample evidence of mismanagement, fraud and incompetence in the reconstruction effort. In February 2006, Robert Stein, who held a senior position in the Coalition Provisional Authority, admitted in a Washington court to stealing more than US$2 million, as well as taking bribes in return for contracts. Around US$1 billion is also believed to have been stolen by Iraqi Defence Ministry officials.[347] Yahia Said told us about the problem of corruption:

    The amount of cash that was pumped into the Iraqi economy after the drought of the sanctions was immense. Tens of billions of dollars poured onto Iraqi streets immediately after the invasion. Of course, that is a great motivation for corruption. It creates great incentives and conditions for corruption and it has contributed to the exacerbation of conditions of corruption. Again, the solution here lies at the political and policy level. You need robust Iraqi institutions to design and decide what projects to follow.[348]

269. While accepting there has been a degree of progress on reconstruction, Iraqi officials also point out that many reconstruction projects have been cancelled. According to Ahmed Kubba, a senior official in the Ministry of Reconstruction and Development: "A list of 6,000 infrastructure projects that needed to be tackled after the war in 2003 was presented and approved by the US government, focussing on health care and education… Of this number, less than 2,000 have been completed so far, with most being cancelled due to financial problems." Kubba went on to point out that only 300 out of 475 initial electricity projects would be completed due to a lack of investment. This means that only 2,200 megawatts of additional power will be delivered instead of the 3,400 megawatts originally planned for by the US government.[349] During its visit to Iraq, the Committee heard that some of the country's infrastructure is now in worse shape than it was three years ago.

270. International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, who visited Iraq in March 2006 to open a DFID-funded centre to train water engineers, has highlighted the progress made in Iraq: "I think one has to recognise the progress that has been made three years on… Iraq now has a stable currency, it's reduced its debt, schools and hospitals are functioning and more people have clean water and access to sanitation than was the case, certainly in the 1990s when the system collapsed completely." The International Development Secretary also highlighted the progress of vaccination programmes, which have led to a decline of measles, mumps, polio and rubella.[350]

271. In contrast, Oliver Birch, the head of the Christian Aid programme in Iraq, has said that reconstruction has stalled and conditions in the country do not appear to be improving: "Quality of life indicators in most sectors are no higher than, or even below, the sanctions period just before the coalition invaded in 2003". These indicators included infant mortality, malnutrition and water supply. Birch added that in some areas "local and probably national government were widely affected by corruption… [and this is] probably by a greater extent even than in the Baathist time".[351]

272. We asked our witnesses about the failure to make more progress on reconstruction. Yahia Said told us:

    There were several problems with the drive to invest massively in Iraq from day one. First of all, a lot of the projects that were designed and had money spent on them were long term projects which should have been left to the Iraqis to decide about. There have been some silly decisions made about things. For example, much of the power generating capacity was designed to work on natural gas which is environmentally correct, but it is a fuel that is not available in Iraq. Some of the new power stations now rely on imported fuel. These are the nicest power stations you can have and probably in the future Iraq would have benefited from them but they are not providing immediate relief. Generally, most of the large, big ticket projects did not produce immediate relief to Iraqis… A lot of the aid should be targeted at policy and at helping Iraqis develop policies for the development of their economy, for dealing with immediate needs, rather than investing in large, big ticket projects. After all, Iraq has a lot of its own resources. The Central Bank of Iraq has $10 billion in its coffers. Iraq is not necessarily a capital deficient country. What Iraq needs is a smarter investment and development policy. Again, it brings us back to the political process. It requires a political process that will manage the country's resources in a more efficient, equitable, transparent way.[352]

The importance of getting the political side in order was reiterated to us during our visit to Iraq; the key to successful reconstruction is achieving a stable and competent government, with the best people in the key jobs.

273. The former Foreign Secretary wrote to update us on British support for reconstruction efforts in the south of Iraq:

    In Southern Iraq more widely the Department for International Development (DfID) has committed £131 million for infrastructure rehabilitation, of which £53 million has been spent on employment creation and improving local administration, along with a £40 million project for improved power and water supplies in southern Iraq. The power and water project will also help central government design an effective long-term infrastructure strategy. A Governance Development Fund provides project funding for work enabling Iraqi capacity building to take place. We also co-chair, with the United Nations, the Southern Iraq Donor Group, which aims to bring all the major civilian and military agencies together to better co-ordinate and deliver our response to reconstruction and development in Southern Iraq.[353]

274. During our visit to Iraq we heard about the progress that has been made on reconstruction in the south of the country. The power supply in the south is better than that in much of the country, and living standards in the region are among the best in Iraq. Basra remains the main problem in the region, but it is slowly moving into a post-conflict phase and expectations are starting to rise. We heard that there is little sabotage of the power infrastructure in the south compared with other areas, but corruption and smuggling are huge problems. We also heard that the USA is considering introducing Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) to Iraq based on the model in Afghanistan and of the possibility that the United Kingdom might take the lead in several of these. The conflation of security and reconstruction in PRTs in Afghanistan has caused concern, not least among aid agencies.

275. We conclude that the reconstruction process has been made extremely difficult by the insurgency, both by sabotage and by the level of violence to personnel involved; however, the lack of progress risks dissatisfaction with the political process. We recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report its plans to make reconstruction efforts more effective as well as its plans, if any, to take part in setting up Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq.

Diplomatic representation

276. In the last Report in this inquiry, our predecessor Committee outlined the status of British diplomatic representation in Iraq and the great difficulties endured by personnel serving in the country. In that Report, the Committee concluded 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 security of personnel is paramount. There are also issues of continuity given the short postings of many of those in Iraq."[354] In its response, the Government told us:

    Travel outside the International Zone in Baghdad remains dangerous and is subject to tight security constraints. Nonetheless, staff are able to travel outside the Zone to meet Iraqi contacts and carry out diplomatic work. Staff in the two Consulates-General are also able to travel within their respective regions in order to deliver HMG policy objectives. The maximum length of postings to Iraq is one year. This reflects the particular stresses of operating with high levels of security. This inevitably leads to a higher turnover of staff than in normal posts, but the Government aims to maintain continuity of policy and approach by ensuring that staff are thoroughly briefed before taking up their posts, and that arrivals and departures are well co-ordinated. A number of staff have returned to London to work on Iraq, contributing to continuity in the broader sense. As the security of our staff is paramount, the Government keeps staff numbers under constant review in order to ensure that only essential staff are kept in country. The Government also reviews and changes the structure of our staffing to reflect the evolving political situation and the character and objectives of our diplomatic presence in Iraq. Such changes are necessary to ensure that our diplomatic representation is appropriate and effective.[355]

277. Since that report, there has been no improvement in the difficult operating environment for British staff. During our visit to Iraq, we witnessed the current conditions. Baghdad is now the biggest UK diplomatic mission in the Middle East; there are 300 personnel in Baghdad and 250 in Basra. All these personnel are volunteers, many are unmarried and 'first-posters'. We also heard that there is a strong team-spirit and high levels of motivation. The longest tour is 12 months and the minimum is 6 months, so there is a high turnover of people; the minimum gap between tours is 6 months. Personnel officially work a 5½-day week, but most also work on their days off. After 6 weeks in post staff receive ten days' special leave.

278. Facilities have improved greatly over the past year and further improvements are planned. This is very important, as most staff are unable to leave the international zone for weeks at a time. The international zone receives less incoming fire than in the past, but there are incidents each week. Hardened accommodation has now been provided for all staff. The Basra compound is smaller and personnel are more restricted in their movements. It is hoped that the number of personnel in Basra will increase with the opening of a trade office.

279. We conclude that conditions remain extremely difficult for British personnel in Iraq and commend the good work they are doing in testing circumstances. We recommend that the Government update us in its response to this Report on the number of British personnel in Iraq, their location and its plans to improve facilities further.


280. For a long time the situation in Basra, where the United Kingdom has responsibility, was enviably calm. However, since the last Report in this inquiry, the security situation in Basra has become much more challenging and relations with the local authorities have come under strain. This deterioration has taken place amid rising sectarian divisions, growing tensions among different Shia groups vying for political power and the proliferation of criminal gangs, which have been blamed for a wave of kidnappings and murders.[356]

281. In 2005, the use by insurgents of new, more lethal roadside bombs forced British troops to scale down their patrols and alter their mode of transport, with journeys undertaken by helicopter rather than road if possible.[357] We discuss suspicions of Iranian links with the increased threat in Chapter 7. A number of incidents have also sparked tension with local communities. In September 2005, two undercover British soldiers were detained by the Iraqis. On 19 September, a British force freed the two men from prison in central Basra, damaging the police station and injuring several Iraqis. The incident led to a serious deterioration in relations between British forces and the local authorities, with local police commanders and provincial council members refusing to work with the British.[358]

282. On 22 November 2005, the former Foreign Secretary wrote to us about the situation:

    During my visit to Basra, on 11 November, I was able to meet the Deputy Governor and to see first hand that relations with the local authorities have improved since the events of 19 September. The joint UK/Iraq statement of 11 October, expressing regret that the incident took place and for the casualties on both sides and damage to public facilities, forms part of the wider efforts to restore good working relations with the Iraqi authorities in Basra.

    Present at my meetings in order to continue support for the Iraqi political process in Basra—were senior members of Basra Provincial Council, and a cross-section of local civil society (including Shi'i and Sunni tribal leaders). All my interlocutors emphasised the need for greater consultation with the UK presence in Basra. During my visit, I called on the Basra Provincial Council to condemn those groups mounting attacks on MND(SE) and to ensure local security forces took effective action against them. This will help remove the major obstacle to an acceleration of reconstruction and the strengthening of co-operation…

    Our staff—at the British Consulate General in Basra—have been hard at work ensuring greater Council involvement in reconstruction projects, security issues, and assistance for education and culture in Basra. We are, therefore, now currently on much better terms with the Governor and Council, and co-operation in all areas is proceeding as well as expected given the continuing fragile security situation. Our Consul General, James Tansley, now addresses weekly meetings of the Council and regularly discusses security issues with the Governor. We aim to continue this engagement to ensure that the legacy of our presence in Basra will create further renewal of the region.[359]

283. Regrettably, relations have continued to come under strain in 2006, with a series of flare-ups. The arrest of several Iraqi security officials suspected of conspiring with militia led to a boycott by the Basra authorities of cooperation with the British army. During our visit to Basra in January 2006, Members of this Committee found that the situation was again going through a difficult period and contacts with the British authorities had been broken off by the Governor and some Members of the Provincial Council.

284. The visit by Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells to Basra in March 2006 went some way to improve relations, as David Richmond CMG, Director-General, Defence and Intelligence at the FCO told us: "the visit of Dr Howells has helped considerably, and I think there are signs that we are now getting back to normal in terms of the relationship with the Provincial Council and some signs of getting back to normal with the Governor as well, though he is more difficult."[360]

285. However, on 6 May, the crash of a British military helicopter in which five British personnel were killed, led to clashes between British troops and Iraqi youths.[361] More positively, Iraqi police supported British soldiers during the unrest that followed the crash and the Iraqi authorities agreed to formally resume cooperation with the British Army in the aftermath.[362] On 17 May 2006, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told the House that the Chairman of the Basra Provincial Council had announced a formal end to the boycott. She added "This welcome development opens the way to restoration of full co-operation between us and the Basra local authorities."[363] The situation in Basra remains tense; at the end of May, Prime Minister Maliki declared a month-long state of emergency in an effort to tackle the rise in sectarian clashes and factional rivalry.[364]

286. We conclude that the deterioration in the security situation and the continuing difficulties in relations with the local communities in Basra are deeply worrying. We commend efforts that have been made to build bridges and repair relations. We recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report what further steps it is taking to improve the situation in the four south-eastern provinces of Iraq and to bring about a resolution of the differences between Shia groups.

The decision to go to war in Iraq

287. In April 2006, we heard from several witnesses about the Government's decision to go to war in Iraq. Asked when he believed the Prime Minister made a commitment to go to war in Iraq, Professor Philippe Sands QC told the Committee:

288. If true, this would raise questions about the Prime Minister's comments to Parliament on 18 March 2003.[366] Asked directly whether he thought the Prime Minister deliberately misled the House in his speech on 18 March 2003, Sir Christopher Meyer, who was British Ambassador to Washington from 1997 until the Spring of 2003, said: "Absolutely not."[367]

289. Sir Christopher did not attend the meeting that produced the minute cited by Philippe Sands.[368] Asked to comment on the minute of that meeting, Sir Christopher told us:

    By the time that Tony Blair came to the meeting on 31 January I was saying that, absent a coup in Iraq or Saddam suddenly deciding to go off into exile in some hospitable place like Minsk, the die was cast for war and therefore the Prime Minister's main objective for that meeting should be to ensure that in the coming war we went into battle, if you like, in the best company possible, which is another way of saying, "Let us get a second resolution."[369]

Sir Christopher expanded on the Prime Minister's commitment to stand with the USA in any war against Iraq:

    I think Tony Blair had made a decision to support George Bush, however the cards fell, from the Crawford Summit of April 2002. This is a distinction I make in my book. This was not a decision in April 2002 at Crawford to go to war on such-and-such a date. It was not an operational decision, but Blair had decided that the right thing to do, given his own view of Saddam Hussein, was to be with the President of the United States whatever decision he chose to take. That was a decision by Blair, I think, taken to try to ensure that he had the maximum influence possible over the President. This is a very important distinction because the criticism has been levelled at both President Bush and Prime Minister Blair that from a very early stage in 2002 they had decided, come what may, that they were going to go to war against Saddam Hussein in the spring of 2003. I do not think that is true because the consequence of that is that everything that then followed in 2002, including the efforts of the United Nations, would have been simply a smokescreen for a devious plan, if you like. I do not believe that to be true. I do not believe the two leaders lied to their respective public opinions. I do believe though that they were very doubtful that Saddam would ever do the right thing and that probably it would come to war, but we did not get to the moment of truth until early 2003.[370]

290. Sir Christopher went on to say: "I do not know exactly what transpired between President and Prime Minister, but the speech that the Prime Minister made the next day at College Station, which was one of the best speeches he made on Iraq, sounded to me like a statement of very strong support for the President, whatever he chose to do."[371]

291. We conclude that there remain significant disagreements about the timing of the decision to go to war with Iraq. We recommend that the Government set out in its response to this Report the chronology of when decisions were made with regard to the Iraq war, including publication of the memorandum of the conversation between the Prime Minister and President Bush on 31 January 2004.

275   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 99-103 Back

276   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 100-103 Back

277   "Iraqi blast damages Shia shrine", BBC News Online, 22 February 2006, Back

278   "Bush 'troubled' by Haditha report", BBC News Online, 31 May 2006, Back

279   "Iraq killings top 1,000 in April", BBC News Online, 10 May 2006, Back

280   "Iraq edging towards precipice", BBC News Online, 8 March 2006, Back

281   "Shia shrine attack blamed for refugee exodus", Financial Times, 4 May 2006 Back

282   "Violence took nation close 'to abyss' of civil war", Financial Times, 6 March 2006 Back

283   "Iraqi leaders establish new council in effort to build unity", Financial Times, 20 March 2006 Back

284   Q 263 [Mr Chehab] Back

285   Q 264 [Mr Said] Back

286   Q 265 [Mr Chehab] Back

287   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 102-103 Back

288   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Sixth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2004-05; Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6590, June 2005 Back

289   Q 265 [Mr Said] Back

290   Q 264 [Mr Said] Back

291   See paras 18-19 Back

292   Q 263 [Mr Chehab] Back

293   HC (2004-05) 36-I, HC 36-I, paras 130-133 Back

294   See paras 74-77 Back

295   Q 266 [Mr Said] Back

296   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 123-129 Back

297   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Sixth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2004-05; Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6590, June 2005 Back

298   Q 79 [Mr Straw] Back

299   "Iraqi Forces: The Other Side of the Development Story", Anthony H. Cordesman, CSIS, 22 March 2006 Back

300   Q 269 [Mr Chehab] Back

301   "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2005", released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 8 March 2006, available at: Back

302   "In their own words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency", International Crisis Group, Middle East Report N°50, 15 February 2006 Back

303   Q 268 [Mr Said] Back

304   Ibid Back

305   HC (2004-05) 36-I, para 129 Back

306   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Sixth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2004-05; Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6590, June 2005 Back

307   "Bush calls for restraint as fears of civil war rise", Financial Times, 23 February 2006 Back

308   HC Deb, 13 March 2006, cols 1151-1152 Back

309   "UK troop numbers to fall by 800", BBC News Online, 13 March 2006, Back

310   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Sixth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2004-05; Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6590, June 2005 Back

311   Ministry of Defence, "Defence Secretary: Security Handover in Muthanna is a 'significant milestone' for all Iraqis", 19 June 2006 Back

312   "Japan to pull troops out of Iraq", BBC Online, 20 June 2006, Back

313   "Bush calls for restraint as fears of civil war rise", Financial Times, 23 February 2006 Back

314   Q 267 [Mr Said] Back

315   Q 284 [Mr Said] Back

316   Q 281 [Mr Chehab] Back

317   Q 267 [Mr Said] Back

318   Q 224 Back

319   "The enforcer", The Guardian, 20 May 2006 Back

320   HC (2003-04) 441-I, paras 27-31; and Foreign Affairs Committee, Ninth Report of Session 2001-02, Private Military Companies, HC 922 Back

321   HC (2003-04) 441-I, para 31 Back

322   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Seventh Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2003-04; Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6340, September 2004 Back

323   HC (2005-06) 574, Ev 67 Back

324   Ev 101 Back

325   Ev 101-102 Back

326   Ev 102 Back

327   Q 226 Back

328   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 144-149 Back

329   Remarks by the Foreign Secretary, 16 October 2005, available at: Back

330   "Iraqi Shias win election victory", BBC News Online, 21 January 2006, Back

331   Q 77 [Mr Straw] Back

332   Q 223 [Mr Straw] Back

333   Q 280 [Mr Said] Back

334   HC (2004-05) 36-I, para 168 Back

335   Evidence from Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to the Inquiry into Developments in the European Union, to be published as HC 768-iv Back

336   See paras 347-351 Back

337   Q 270 [Mr Said] Back

338   Q 229 [Mr Straw] Back

339   Q 230 [Mr Straw] Back

340   Q 81 [Mr Straw] Back

341   "US, Iran Closer to Talks on Iraq", The Washington Post, 18 March, 2006 Back

342   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 118-122 Back

343   HC (2004-05) 36-I, para 122 Back

344   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Sixth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2004-05; Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6590, June 2005 Back

345   "Iraq: Insecurity, corruption hamper reconstruction effort", Reuters, 20 March 2006 Back

346   Ibid Back

347   Ibid Back

348   Q 287 [Mr Said] Back

349   "Iraq: Insecurity, corruption hamper reconstruction effort", Reuters, 20 March 2006 Back

350   "Iraq reconstruction 'has stalled'", BBC News Online, 21 March 2006, Back

351   Ibid Back

352   Q 286 [Mr Said] Back

353   Ev 36 Back

354   HC (2004-05) 36-I, para 172 Back

355   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Sixth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2004-05; Foreign Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6590, June 2005 Back

356   "Iraq imposes emergency in Basra", BBC News Online, 31 May 2006, Back

357   "Shaped bombs magnify Iraq attacks", BBC News Online, 10 October 2005, Back

358   "UK agrees to pay for Basra damage", BBC News Online, 11 October 2005, Back

359   Ev 36 Back

360   Q 228 [Mr Richmond] Back

361   "Basra assault compounds PM's problems", Financial Times, 8 May 2006 Back

362   "Iraqis resume ties with British", BBC News Online, 7 May 2006, Back

363   HC Deb, 17 May 2006, col 995W Back

364   "Iraq imposes emergency in Basra", BBC News Online, 31 May 2006, Back

365   Q 289 Back

366   HC Deb, 18 March 2003, cols 760-764 Back

367   Q 337 Back

368   Q 328 Back

369   Q 329 Back

370   Q 330 Back

371   Q 331 Back

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