Asked if it was fair to say that the Government did not support the introduction of Martial Law in Iraq in the light of the Prime Minister’s comments today during PMQs, the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had underlined during the NATO Summit in Istanbul, the new sovereign Iraqi Government would decide its own security policy. Prime Minister Alawi had made clear that if that meant taking tough decisions, then so be it. However, the key difference between the past regime in Iraq and the new Government was the fact that the latter would take tough security decisions to secure democracy, not because they were acting in a tyrannical way.
Asked if the Government still intended to send additional British troops to Iraq, the PMOS said that we were expecting US General David Patraeus, who was leading the effort in terms of training Iraqis, to agree a rough medium term plan and timetable for Iraqi-isation of the security services with Prime Minister Alawi and the Multi National Force. This would dictate the strategic needs, as viewed by the Iraqis themselves. We hoped an announcement would be made before the end of July. Other decisions would have to fit in with that process. Asked if that meant that more troops from outside Iraq would be brought in before the numbers were reduced, the PMOS said it meant that the issue was being kept under review within the strategic framework. It would be up to the Iraqis to set out their needs to achieve Iraqi-isation. Asked by The Scotsman to explain the term ‘Iraqi-isation’, the PMOS said that we had been talking about this issue for the past month and a half. It was about Iraqi troops, Iraqi police, Iraqi border guards and Iraqi intelligence services taking over responsibility for the security of Iraq. That had been our consistent message since before the UN Resolution was agreed earlier this month. Asked if it was more or less likely that additional British troops would be sent to Iraq, the PMOS said that he had no intention of getting drawn into a speculative discussion about this matter. An assessment of what was needed to achieve Iraqi-isation would be made by the Iraqi Government. Our goal was to see a stable Iraq. That would be done by training the Iraqi forces so that stability would be sustainable. People would just have to exercise a little patience until that was done.
Asked to what extent Iraqi-isation had already been achieved, the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had pointed out in his Statement to the House today, we were further down the road in British areas of Iraq. The profile of our troops there had changed because the load was being carried more and more by Iraqi forces. Obviously that scenario varied in different parts of the country. In the past, our emphasis had been on getting the required number of Iraqis needed to fulfil all the necessary functions. Now we were focussing on the quality of Iraqi-isation, which was why we were giving people the training they needed to deal with what was still a difficult security environment.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
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