» Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Iraq Attacks

Asked if the Prime Minister believed that the attacks in Iraq today were indicative of Sunni/Shi’ite hostility, the PMOS said it would appear that terrorists or Saddam loyalists were seeking to foment religious strife within Iraq and also to derail the political progress that was being made. It was certainly no coincidence 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 challenge for everyone was ensure that that the perpetrators did not succeed. We were determined that they would not. Asked if Downing Street was concerned that we might be seeing the result of internal tensions in Iraq rather than outright terrorism as today’s attacks would appear to suggest, the PMOS said the important thing was that the different tribes and religious traditions were able to form an administration. What had happened so far was a good indication that the will on the part of the Iraqi people was there and that such a thing was possible. It was obviously important for everyone to continue on that path. The political progress that had been made yesterday with the agreement on the Transitional Law should not be ignored. Asked if he would agree that internal tension was the inevitable result of religious freedom in Iraq, the PMOS said that the perpetrators of today’s attacks would like that to be the outcome. However, it was not right to suggest that its genesis was the Sunni/Shi’ite issue. That was the fundamental difference. It was terrorism, not ‘civil war’.

Asked again how we could expect the handover of power and elections to be held when there was clearly a security problem, the PMOS said that the UN Brahimi report had talked about elections taking place in 2005 at the earliest. However, we were continuing to work towards what was an admittedly challenging timetable that had been set out for the handover of power this summer. It had not changed. The PMOS added that the Prime Minister would shortly be doing a doorstep with the King of Jordan and that journalists should use his words.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. "Saddam loyalists"? This is so laughable I don’t know how they can say it. Maybe we should be worried they’ve not yet used their "weapons of mass destruction".

    Meanwhile, here’s a nearby ally that was born out of terrorism and violence against Britain:

    Violence can be avoided, but it can’t be done by lying about it’s causes, pursuant of more important matters, such as oil and George Bush’s confidence.

    Comment by Julian Todd — 3 Mar 2004 on 11:57 am | Link

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