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If time had permitted, I would have sought to address the property issue, which is one of the most contentious. Suffice that I should draw attention to the Orams case, where the English judge intimated that property issues in Cyprus are international issues which cannot be settled in the courts. I trust that his judgment will be upheld on appeal. The Turkish Cypriot Government have now, unilaterally, established a claims commission, and Greek Cypriots, despite official disapproval and hindrance by the Greek Cypriot Government, are already applying for reinstatement or compensation. When considering the property issue, however, we must never forget that there is a quid pro quo—those thousands of Turkish Cypriots who lost properties in the south that are now occupied by Greek Cypriots.

In conclusion, I challenge the Government to say whether this farce has not gone on long enough. Are a quarter of a million Turkish Cypriots, living at peace with their neighbours, not as important in human rights terms as Iraqis, Afghans or ourselves? Let us have an end of hypocrisy and mere lip service and ensure that Turkish Cypriots at long last achieve their rightful place in a democratic Europe.



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6.38 pm

Lord Jopling: My Lords, I share the anger of my noble friends Lord King and Lord Hurd over the situation confronting us in the Middle East. It is no use crying over spilt milk, but for the record I remind noble Lords that, before the conflict began, some of us opposed it. Pursuing a policy of invading Iraq has turned out to be a total folly.

Shortly after the invasion began, the Egyptian president warned that the action was becoming a recruiting operation for al-Qaeda, Islamic fundamentalism and suicide bombers. How right he was. Three years later, that recruitment continues to gather pace, as the United States as well as Britain become more and more detested by more and more people in the Middle East. We have to ask ourselves whether it is too late to retrieve anything from the disaster that faces us in Iraq as the tide of terror continues to grow.

There are two points from the past that I hope the Government have taken on board. First, it is no good the United States and the United Kingdom attempting to take on Islamic terrorism, or any other terrorism, on a unilateral basis. As I have said to your Lordships before, I remain convinced that if one is going to take terrorism on, one needs to do so in the name of the world community in a wholehearted, multilateral way. In that context, I was pleased to hear the Minister say in his opening speech that the NATO operation in Afghanistan needs to be shared fairly among the alliance. How right he was about that. We cannot have the caveats of certain countries that seem to indicate they are more interested in staffing canteens and hospitals than in filling body bags.

Secondly, I hope that future Governments will listen a great deal more carefully to the military advice they are given. So many distinguished military figures who were free to comment before the Iraq invasion warned that there was a serious lack of planning for the post-conflict period and that there had not been enough thought, particularly in the United States, about what should be done after the immediate conflict was over. Military advice also appears not to have been listened to properly in Afghanistan, where we are clearly suffering from inadequate force levels on the ground and inadequate equipment. Like my noble friend Lord King, I refer to the remarks that Colonel Wilkinson made on the “Today” programme this morning about military planners in Kabul being aghast at the lack of troops on the ground. The United States and our Government are seriously culpable in not having listened properly to the military advice that they have been given.

Turning to the future, I cannot help feeling that the situation in the Middle East may well get worse before it gets better. There is a new situation in Israel following the conflict with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. That conflict showed that what we believed about Israel’s military invincibility is no longer true and Israel now appears to be militarily vulnerable. That must be of great interest to Syria and other countries that have belligerent attitudes towards Israel. Last week, I was at a NATO assembly meeting

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in Quebec and heard evidence that tension between Syria and Israel has been growing in the past few months.

The second part of the future relates to Iran. I took on board what my noble friend Lord Lamont said, but I hope that the Government are beginning to think privately about how we might all live in the Middle East if Iran becomes a nuclear-weapon state. It is clear that Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and has lied endlessly to the IAEA over them. There is no possibility of applying sanctions to Iran on this. I was in Moscow a few weeks ago, and the Russians are absolutely clear that they will not have anything to do with sanctions. In any case, if we look at Iran’s neighbours, can anybody seriously believe that sanctions would work if they were to be applied? If Iran is moving in the direction of becoming a nuclear-weapon state, the only other way to stop it would be to start a third war in the Middle East, and I cannot really think that any of us are so daft as to want to do that.

We need a Middle East strategy. If we are to achieve one, we will have to go to the fundamentals. We can only hope that the Jim Baker/Lee Hamilton report blazes the way to that, but if it only suggests talks with Syria and Iran, I fear that it will not get very far. When one sees and hears of Israel’s disproportionate revenge on Gaza, one can only feel that that sort of approach will have to change as well as there being a withdrawal from lands stolen from Palestinians. That will be essential to get Syria, Iran and others to begin to have talks in a sensible, helpful way. We can only hope that the United States will think and act fundamentally at this critical stage to avoid a major new conflict in the region, which is a distinct possibility.

6.47 pm

Baroness Northover: My Lords, the Queen’s Speech mentioned working for peace in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan; taking forward the WTO Doha round and focusing on Africa, including Darfur; and working together with the UN, NATO, the EU and the US. However, to take the last aspect first, it is frankly appalling to see how much the UK alliance with the Bush Administration has undermined our ability to do any of these things. We were seen as honest brokers in the Middle East, but that is simply no longer the case. It is difficult to say how many years it will be before we can be seen as such again.

After the invasion of Iraq, with its incompetence and lack of a proper plan for reconstruction, we now see the country far from a stable democracy but close to civil war. The millions poured in for reconstruction benefited few but favoured contractors. Now, having alienated Iraq’s neighbours, such as Syria and Iran, we seek to woo them, leaving little room for putting pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. Involvement in Iraq has taken from what we could have done in Afghanistan. Reconstruction and development programmes are underfunded in all areas; for example, there is a huge deficit in the Law and Order Trust for Afghanistan, which pays police salaries. There has been a decline in safe access to

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education for girls in Afghanistan, and there is the humanitarian suffering caused by the fighting in the south, where there are now an additional 80,000 to 90,000 internally displaced persons. Given that displaced people’s camps have traditionally fostered fanaticism, that is especially worrying.

Elsewhere, we saw the disproportionate actions taken this summer in Lebanon, where the UK’s position of a ceasefire, but not yet, was like that of St Augustine on celibacy. Now the US appears to be talking of arming one side against the other in Palestine, while not allowing pay to go through to teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Could we follow the US on that? Just as we have to talk to Iran and Syria about Iraq, surely we must bring Hamas into the peace negotiations; it was, after all, fairly elected. We should not seek to radicalise Palestinians further. Many Palestinian Authority public sector workers have gone unpaid for six months. Over half of Palestinians are now unable adequately to feed their families. There has been a dramatic worsening in the past year.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlement expansion has continued. On 4 September, another 690 housing units were announced for the West Bank and east Jerusalem. We must get it across to the Israeli Government that their future security depends on a negotiated settlement that includes all sides.

We have been playing into the hands of those who wish to condemn everything western. Like the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, I have just returned from Pakistan, where those who wish to see the country move forward, to strengthen the position of women, extend education, and to see the country forge ahead at the rate of India and China, believe that the UK should shoulder some of the blame for the situation they feel they are in—a state from which terrorism emanates. I am sure that this will have been made very clear to the Prime Minister over the past weekend.

Our Government, with others, neglected the Middle East and we count the cost now, both in that region and in our own country. What is happening there deflects us from problems elsewhere. We see neglect in Sudan, where the international community seems incapable of standing up to the Sudanese Government or of properly equipping and financing the AU mission. We see neglect in Uganda, the DRC and in the WTO talks, where the Doha round runs into the dust and bilateral agreements are made with the poorest countries around the world, to their great detriment.

We see neglect to tackle AIDS, where the enormity of what we face has not been properly grasped. We should be aware of the huge social and economic impact this pandemic already has caused, and will surely cause. At Gleneagles it was agreed that all who needed it should be on treatment by 2010, but in many parts of Africa only about 5 per cent of those with AIDS are on treatment. How will that gap be closed? The emphasis used to be on prevention, but it is now recognised that treatment, too, must be part of the equation, not least so that children are not orphaned. You only have to see the enormous

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increase in the number of street children and child soldiers in the DRC to see that. I note that only 3 to 5 per cent of DfID expenditure on AIDS is on treatment, whereas 32 per cent is spent on prevention.

I welcome the moves the Government made—under pressure and too cautiously—in the Companies Bill in the last Session. Will they now bring forward regulations for directors which make very clear that the alleged actions of, for example, a company such as AngloGold Ashanti, involving environmental and human rights abuses in Ghana, are unacceptable? Will the Government’s proposed Climate Change Bill be tough enough to make a real difference to the poorest countries, which will be hit the hardest?

Britain used to pride itself on playing a role internationally way beyond its size. Its profile internationally is certainly very high, but hardly for the right reasons. I hope that the first steps will now be taken to put the UK, with our European allies, at the forefront of working to resolve conflict. What we do in development policy is undermined by our foreign policy mistakes. Might we see a sea change? We have to hope so.

6.54 pm

Lord Bramall: My Lords, many noble Lords have so ably made the point, with which I agree, that for the past five years we have not really had a coherent strategy in the Middle East, only a drifting forward from crisis to crisis as American actions and political expediency demanded.

Iraq, however it has had to be presented politically, has been the gravest of disappointments, if not largely a predictable disaster. It has exacerbated, not diminished, the problem of terrorism; disrupted the balance of power to the gain of Iran; lost us much good will and trust in the Arab world, to which we might previously have laid claim; above all, it has taken everyone’s eyes off the ball of the one critical issue which more than any other might bring stability to the area—a fair and just solution to the Palestine problem. If that is repetition, it cannot be said often enough.

Most people accept that we should leave Iraq as soon as we decently can—the Prime Minister adding the rider “when the job is done”—but it is not easy to know how the completion of that job, however it is represented, can be assessed in a realistic timeframe. Now the options left to us are few, and all carry high risks. Of course we must try to involve and work with other states in the area, whose interests cannot be served by a chaotic Iraq; but there may not be too many anxious to come forward to sort out a mess made by others, particularly while some continue to be dubbed undiplomatically as being on an “axis of evil”.

On top of that, we have the sad spectacle of a campaign in southern Afghanistan—after a more rational and focused intervention in the north—entered into without sufficient forethought or consideration of the history, make-up and therefore inevitable threats in the area, with inadequate numbers on the ground, helicopter support and

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logistic backing, and all exacerbated by our preoccupation with Iraq and previous underfunding and cuts. It has been only the outstanding professionalism and valour of our Armed Forces, fighting very properly a ferocious shooting war in the most demanding conditions, which have for the moment prevented any military reverses.

Our Armed Forces will continue to give a good account of themselves. They will no doubt kill many Taliban and win specific engagements, but whether proper pacification by substantial western forces of the whole country under the present Government in Kabul will ever really be possible is open to question. It will certainly be defying history.

I am now hopeful, particularly after this debate, that the Government will spend more time on serious strategic thinking and listen to and heed the advice of the chiefs of staff and those in the Foreign Office who really understand the area, for surely the time for routine political justification has passed. Should we not be asking ourselves, for instance, whether there is not another way of dealing with al-Qaeda, now more or less confined to the border area of Pakistan, than engaging in an open-ended battle against the Taliban and others who over centuries have resisted the presence of foreigners in their country? If this is not handled imaginatively, with full consultation with Pakistan, the elders of the area, perhaps even the Taliban itself, and with Kabul, terrorism may become more firmly planted than ever.

To be as constructive as possible, we must, I believe—I hope that the penny has at last dropped—concentrate on a strategy of firm, intelligent “containment” of clearly identified threats, terrorist or otherwise, rather than on expeditionary interventions involving formed bodies of troops, so often counterproductive, just as we did successfully in the days of the Cold War, when there was also a conflict of ideology and a persistent and insidious subversive intention.

Containment is not appeasement; it is reacting to circumstances and threats as they really are and not as sometimes it is politically expedient to present them. It means standing firm, ready to defend truly vital interests while keeping open opportunities for dialogue, against a background of a realistic balance of power, of which Iran is now a key piece. It involves, with the help of friendly states, building up and improving vital intelligence, so that we can give our security forces all the support to deal with, pre-emptively if possible, any terrorist or criminal activities threatening our national security, just as so far we appear to be doing very successfully in this country.

In the Middle East, when the stigma of Iraq has faded, it means working with friendly Muslim states and others to help them to help themselves against extremism, using the expertise that circumstances have obliged us to acquire over the years. Generally, containment implies a dynamic diplomacy: a co-ordinated foreign and defence policy which shows respect for other nations and their predicament and gives priority, using the influence that we should have

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accrued with the United States, to solving the crucial issues that both motivate and fuel extremism.

In particular, containment means trying with every sinew in our bodies—as the Prime Minister once put it in a remarkable speech in California—to get a fair, just and lasting solution to the Palestine problem. That must mean the state of Israel, which we helped to create and whose survival is essential, having the incentive which can only be provided by the Americans to sit round the table with all interested parties, militant and otherwise, with an unequivocal readiness to trade land—especially illegal settlements—for peace. That will not be an easy job. It may not work, but the longer it is left, especially after the events in Lebanon and Gaza, the harder it will get. Without an outcome to which a large part of the international community and the Security Council can, with a clear conscience and a glad heart, endorse and guarantee, there can be no peace in the area, no way of controlling extremism, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, just said, a real chance of an inexorable drift to a more general war.

We need a coldly rational rethink of our whole Middle East policy and our relations with Islam. We have many fences to mend, as indeed we had 50 years ago at the time of the Suez crisis, when we also sought regime change and equally drew false conclusions about the real threat to our people and our interests. If we go on getting it wrong, the future, this time, could be grave indeed.

7.02 pm

Baroness Hooper: My Lords, inevitably in a Queen's Speech the focus is on forward plans for legislation. It is unusual to have much mention of foreign affairs. In that, this year's Queen's Speech is unusual. As the course of this debate proves—in particular, the comments of my noble friend Lord Howell at the outset—global considerations and developments impinge more than ever on our home policies and on the home departments.

Take the Home Office, where policy-making seems to be dominated by issues of immigration and visas; take education, where the international movement of workers alone brings a need for equivalence of standards and skills. In the field of health, pandemics affect us all and recruitment of overseas staff brings an international aspect to our National Health Service. In energy, we depend on overseas producers; and, in the environment, the challenge of global warming is universal.

Those considerations apart, the goal of world peace remains. People of my generation, born at the outbreak of the last world war, cannot forget the chilling reality of war and its aftermath on our doorstep. Nowadays, in spite of remembrance services and the ongoing establishment of war memorials, that chilling reality and memories of the destruction caused by war become more and more remote. Even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so compellingly referred to in today's debate, seem remote to the vast majority of people. Today, we are faced with different sorts of war—the war against

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terrorism and the war against poverty—where the enemy is more elusive and the weapons that we use must be different.

Throughout my lifetime, I have had the opportunity and privilege of travelling extensively. The past year has been no exception: I have travelled from South America and the Caribbean to Mongolia and, most recently, to Pakistan, which seems to be becoming a popular destination for politicians. Furthermore, as a delegate from this Parliament to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I have the opportunity to work with parliamentarians from 46 European member nations, to observe new trends and to realise how enormously our approach to international relations has had to change.

The United Kingdom, as a group of small offshore islands on the edge of Europe, still punches above its weight. That is because of our history and the respect in which many of our institutions are held worldwide. It is not just because of who we are now and what we say and do now. Of course, we no longer live in the days of Elizabeth I, when our enterprising sailors and adventurers could set off to capture prizes and great riches. We no longer live at a time when our Navy rules the waves or where the red splodges on the map reflect the vast extent of the Empire. Things must be done differently. We must work through global and regional institutions, through partnerships and co-operation.

Enough has already been said about what a disaster it has been when we have ignored the majority voice of the United Nations and embarked on adventures such as the war in Iraq. We have work to do and a role to play in the United Nations and its satellite organs, in the European Union and the Council of Europe, in the OECD and in the many other global organisations—not least the Commonwealth, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford pointed out most forcefully.

That is why the role of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is so important. The noble Lord, Lord Jay, made a modest reference to its tiny budget. I take it on myself to deplore once again—this time, not only in relation to Latin America—the ongoing tightening of the Foreign Office budget, the closure of embassies and/or their downsizing and downgrading and the reduction in trade promotion that ensues in many parts of the world. It should be the other way round. More than ever in today's world, we need behind-the-scenes skills and diplomacy, which are essential in preparing the ground and patiently building up good relations. I was glad to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, emphasise the need to take time and patience to do just that.

One bright light is the role for us in Parliament of the IPU and CPA in plugging some of the gaps in government policy and geographical spread and providing parliamentarians, at least, with opportunities to have the necessary insight and information.

It is my wont on these occasions to talk almost exclusively about Latin America—largely because no

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one else does. However, one of the positive developments in your Lordships' House is the number of people who, thanks to the IPU, have been introduced to various countries in central and South America. Some of them will participate in today's debate. In any event, as I look forward to a specialised debate on the region on a Motion already tabled by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, I will not dwell too long on that part of the world—which is not to say that I consider it any less important in world terms or any less dear to my heart.


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