Examination of Witness (Questions 280-284)|
3 JULY 2008
Q280 Sir Patrick Cormack: Finally,
would you agree in general terms with what Archbishop Tutu said
at the weekend?
Mr Brown: Which particular statement
are you referring to?
Q281 Sir Patrick Cormack: When he
said that he thought it might be appropriate or might be necessary
for a peacekeeping force to be put in to Zimbabwe?
Mr Brown: There has been some
discussion of an international peacekeeping force and that is
an option that is obviously on the table. I think we have to bear
in mind that all the pressure at the moment is political pressure
to try and achieve a desired result. We have to listen also to
what the opposition in Zimbabwe are saying to us about what they
think is the right course that they wish to see pursued and we
have to get the mediators working very quickly to achieve the
transition we want to see.
Q282 Mike Gapes: Prime Minister,
you have mentioned several times the African Union and its role,
are you disappointed that the African Union, not just on Zimbabwe
but on Darfur, has been unable to take more decisive action and
more effective action? Is there an intrinsic problem within the
African Union in that there are a number of countries which are
not democracies and, in fact, some which have worse human rights
records even than Robert Mugabe?
Mr Brown: That is an issue, but
I think we also have to remember the African Union is building
itself up gradually as an institution that is capable of exercising
decision-making power. Much of the work in the Zimbabwe election
has not been done by the African Union, it has been done by SADC,
who had very clear electoral rules, made it absolutely clear that
the Mugabe regime had broken these rules and I think we have to
help both SADC and the African Union to play their full part.
As far as Darfur is concerned, my own view is that we have been
prevented from doing many of the things we want to do by the situation
on the ground in Darfur itself. There was a period when we thought
we could get rebel groups together and then there was this incursion
by the rebel groups. There was a period when we thought we could
get co-operation from the regime itself and I think a lot of what
is to happen for Darfur is a bringing together of the forces inside
Sudan and getting them to come together for peacekeeping talks.
Mike Gapes: Michael Connarty, last question.
Q283 Michael Connarty: A further
question about Iraq, I thought someone might have asked it. Given
the proposals on the carbon law in Iraq, which basically hands
over the oil resources of Iraq to the same oil companies which
were there when the UK used to run that country, and the proposal
for 50 permanent bases for the USA in Iraq, do you share any disquiet
that I have, and not just Members of Parliament, members of the
public have, that in fact it is turning out to be a war for oil
and that what will be left will be American imperialism which
will cause the same problems it caused for British jurisdiction
when we tried to run the country to take its oil?
Mr Brown: I do not think the Americans
are talking in the long run about 50 bases, I do not think that
is the fact, but equally you raise an important question about
who is going to develop these resources of Iraq, not just for
the people of Iraq but for the benefit of the whole world. You
have got a very substantial amount of oil that could make a difference
even now to the demand and supply equation for oil. I held a meeting
of potential investors in the Basra area because we have set up
this group to provide an economic plan for the development of
Basra and I found that there were many new companies, companies
that had never been in Iraq before, not the old companies, many
new companies wanting to help develop the resources of Iraq with
the Iraqi people. I think we have to look at the situation on
the ground and there is a tremendous amount of work being done
by our representative and by the Iraqi Development Forum to try
and bring new investors into Iraq so that we can get Iraqi people
securing the benefit of their own resource by a partnership between
the Iraqi people and these investors.
Q284 Mike Gapes: Prime Minister,
yesterday you made some change to the list of terrorist organisations
with regard to Hezbollah and one of the issues that was quoted
as the reason for that was the role of Hezbollah in Iraq. Clearly
that was not done by Hezbollah coming from Lebanon directly to
Iraq, they are going through Iran. Would you like to assess what
the role of Iran is at the moment in assisting the people who
are killing our troops in Iraq and the potential difficulties
that Iran is currently causing to us in Iraq?
Mr Brown: First of all, can I
just say about the announcement yesterday, it was about the military
wing of Hezbollah, not about its legitimate political and social
wings. It was about evidence that we had accumulated over quite
a long period of time of its involvement in terrorism not just
in Iraq but also in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. That
was the basis on which the order extending proscription to the
military wing was agreed. As far as Iran and its influence in
Iraq is concerned, I think one of the things which happened after
Prime Minister Maliki intervened in the Basra area was that a
number of the foreign backed militias which were working in Basra
were pushed out. What I am hoping happens in the Basra area, and
I am pleased Mr Arbuthnot found what I know from the other accounts
I have received is happening there, is that there is a greater
willingness on the part of local people in the Basra area to take
more control over their own affairs and to act within the ambit
of democratic or traditional politics rather than resort to paramilitary
activity. When paramilitary activity or military activity is pushed
out then the Iranian influence in the Province is also reduced.
What we are really looking for in Iraq, and it is a time of opportunity,
is that as we move from combat to over-watch, we are able to see
the Iraqis move from a situation where they have relied on British
and American forces to a situation where they have their own armed
forces maintaining the military peace, we have police in Iraq
that are corrupt-free who are maintaining law and order and we
get to a position where we have local government that is working
effectively in the Basra area with elections, I hope, by the end
of the year and at the same time the economic and social development
programme that Mr Connarty talked about, a programme which will
give Iraqis in this area a great deal of prosperity because there
is an enormous amount of oil wealth, a great port in the area,
lots of scope for economic and social development, they will then
feel that they have an economic and social stake in the future.
I believe that these trends are underway. A year ago I do not
think you could have said that. I think now because of the way
that we have conducted ourselves and the way that the Iraqi Government
has been more determined to reach out, things look as if they
are in a better position. We want that more stable situation to
extend itself into local government elections and the forces of
democracy getting greater control.
Chairman: It has been an extremely wide-ranging
two and a half hours, Prime Minister. Thank you very much.