» Tuesday, March 2, 2004


Asked the Prime Minister’s reaction to the attacks in Iraq this morning, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister condemned them absolutely. They would only serve to strengthen the resolve of the Coalition, the international community and the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) to continue on the journey towards political and economic progress. It was no accident that the attacks had come the day after the IGC had reached agreement on the Transitional Law which safeguarded religious freedom. Nor was it any accident that they had occurred on the day that Iraqi Shi’ites were marking the Ashoura festival for the first time in years as they had been unable to do under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. The perpetrators were clearly trying to stop political progress, stop expressions of religious freedom and stop the journey towards a more democratic and prosperous country. They did not want to acknowledge the fact that Saddam Hussein’s years of bloody tyranny were over. They did not want progress. They stood for nothing, apart from their own hatred and bigotry.

Asked if the Prime Minister believed that the attacks in Iraq and Pakistan this morning had been co-ordinated and therefore presented a wider threat, the PMOS said that there would appear to have been an attempt to foment religious unrest in both countries. In relation to Iraq, however, everybody was aware of what was at stake. The prize was a democratic Iraq for the Iraqi people by the Iraqi people. Yesterday had been a very significant step forward. That progress was not going to be derailed by a minority. They might be destructive and a force for evil, but we were absolutely determined that they were not going to prevail.

Asked how we could expect the handover of power and elections to be held in Iraq when there was clearly a security problem, the PMOS reminded journalists that some people had said that we would never be able to reach an agreement on the Transitional Law. Yesterday had clearly proved them wrong. We had always acknowledged that the timetable for the summer was challenging. However, we would simply not allow terrorists to derail the progress that was being made. It was impossible to legislate for the sort of fanaticism, extremism, and evil we had seen today. However, what we could – and would – do was to continue to try to build the peaceful and prosperous Iraq that the Iraqi people wanted to see. Asked if the UK would be prepared to boost its security presence in the country, the PMOS said that these issues were kept under constant review, as you would expect.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Tony blair condems this attack seeing that it happened thousands of miles away it strengthens the resolve of the Coalition to bomb more civilians.
    "everybody was aware of what was at stake. The prize was a democratic Iraq for the Iraqi people by the Iraqi people." well a democratic Iraq for the american oil companies.
    I too condem the attacks, but this is what we can expect for demolishing a country with the flimsy excuse of wepons of mass destruction.
    I have to say that the wepons are very dangerous indeed… being invisible in all.

    Comment by Dikkie — 3 Mar 2004 on 10:18 am | Link
  2. The attacks in Karbala and Baghdad show that security in Iraq is still a problem, but it also shows that Iraq is becoming a democracy. Iraq was one of the worlds worst dictatorship but now Saddam has been captured and Iraq will soon have a democratically elected government. This scares Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, they have lost Afghanistan and now Iraq, the two countries they were able to operate in freely.
    Although a lot of people around the world disagreed with the war and no large or long-range weapons of mass destruction have been found, it has succeeded in removing Saddam from power. A man who attacked his own town of Halabjah with chemical weapons (sarin) because it was captured by Iran in the Iran – Iraq war. This attack alone killed over four thousand people.
    Although security is still a major problem other services are better than they were before the war, teachers and policemen and many more employees have had large pay rises, there is more electricity and people can say they dislike the government with out being shot or tortured.

    Comment by Alex Lowe — 4 Mar 2004 on 8:50 pm | Link

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