» Monday, July 11, 2005


Asked if the Government was committed to reducing troop levels in Iraq by the end of the year, the PMOS said that the Government was doing what we said we would do. That was, through the process of ‘Iraqization’, working with the Iraqi government in the first place, and with our allies in Iraq, we were doing everything we could to build up the capacity of the Iraqi security forces in the hope and expectation that they would increasingly take the load of looking after security in Iraq. That had been our goal since April last year. Therefore it should come as no surprise that we were going through the thinking process of how we achieved that. As John Reid had said, the process of transfer would only come at the point where the Iraqi government and ourselves believed that the Iraqi forces were capable of taking that load. Asked how much progress we had made, the PMOS said it was going forward all the time, not just in terms of the numbers of Iraq forces but also in their quality. It was a matter of judgmens which would be made from month to month.

Asked if there was any timetable for withdrawal, the PMOS said that we hadn’t got into timetables as we had said all along. We were looking for a time when it was, in the judgement of everyone, the right time to begin that process of transfer. Asked about the plans released over the weekend, the PMOS said that as John Reid had said yesterday, of course there was contingency planning and of course there were discussions with the Iraqi government. The judgment would be whether the Iraqi forces were capable of taking the load. There would also be variable readiness in different parts of Iraq and variable degrees of threat within Iraq. It was important to recognise that in large parts of Iraq there wasn’t a severe insurgency threat. Those were judgments that would be made on the ground by the people on the ground and the final voice would be that of the democratically elected Iraqi government.

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


  1. It’s a good job we’re "going forward all the time, not just in terms of the numbers of Iraq forces but also in their quality" – from what I read the other day by the US’ top general in the area there are only around about 2400 Iraqi troops trained & actually ready. That’s not bad going for nearly 2 years work… Makes one think they’re in no real hurry…!

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 13 Jul 2005 on 2:25 am | Link
  2. Tube bombs ‘linked to Iraq conflict’

    Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain told a rally in Russell Square, near the scene of the bus bombing, that the Muslim community would not suffer in silence for the crimes of the suicide bombers. "We will continue to talk, we will continue to write and we will continue to challenge the government. I say to Muslims, do not bow to pressure to keep accepting those pointing fingers at you.

    "Say, ‘No, I’m not responsible for what happened on July 7. My heart bleeds, I condemn it, yes, but I did not make those boys angry. I did not send those bombs to Iraq. I do not keep people locked in Guant\xE1namo Bay and I do not have anything to do with Abu Ghraib, except to denounce it.’ Politicians, see what you have done to this world?"

    <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,16132,1530817,00.html">http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,16132,1530817,00.html</a&gt;

    Hear, hear!

    Comment by jk5 — 18 Jul 2005 on 10:11 am | Link
  3. Come on, the whole thing is a frigging joke! Although Tony Bliar was warned beforehand that involvement in Iraq could (would) increase the chance of terrorism here, he ignored that advice. Now that Iraq has happened and the promised terrorism has happened, Tony says there’s no connection. Sorry mate, but I don’t think anyone in the world is going to buy that. Whether the London bombers were motivated by Iraq is totally irrelevant; we’ll never know if they were NOT connected (too late for that, obviously), and in my opinion we HAVE to assume they were – otherwise we have no answers at all. Tony reckons they were motivated not by Iraq but by hate and evil; so what’s next, you prick? "War against Evil"?! "War against Hate"?!

    Idiot; the man will say absolutely anything to absolve himself. I wish I could say that I hope he doesn’t sleep at night, but I think by now we all know the man has so little conscience that he’ll have no trouble at all.

    I also find it interesting that in the wake of the London attacks, public support for ID cards and other infringements of civil liberties has grown immeasurably (take a look at recent polls on the Sky News website). Disregarding for a moment my own anti-government prejudice and any consideration of motivation or blame, one does rather get the feeling that the terrorists have played right into Tony’s grasping little mitts. We’ll see later today how the cross-party talks on new anti-terror laws go, but from what has been said recently by all parties I really don’t see Tony having a problem getting these new laws through. Are they really needed? Well put it this way; I doubt the London bombers were much bothered by existing anti-terror laws – so what use will more legislation be?

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 18 Jul 2005 on 11:39 am | Link
  4. The London mass murders appears to be part of a much larger insanity.


    PapaL – read Scheuer’s 2 books yet?

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 18 Jul 2005 on 1:13 pm | Link
  5. "It was important to recognise that in large parts of Iraq there wasn’t a severe insurgency threat."

    <a href="http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/070805G.shtml">http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/070805G.shtml</a&gt;

    Could this be because the British have bought peace in the South by handing over control to a misogynistic Iranian backed Shi’ite group?


    Comment by Mr Pooter — 18 Jul 2005 on 2:08 pm | Link
  6. Nope, not yet; haven’t had much time of late to do a lot of reading. They’re on the list and I’ll get to them eventually. Who knows? By the time I do it may no longer be an issue (some hope…!)

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 18 Jul 2005 on 3:40 pm | Link
  7. The PMOS is disingenuous or has been appallingly badly educated. ‘Large parts of Iraq’ are actually unoccupied desert.

    In such terrain, secure borders do not exist. Most of the nomadic inhabitants have traditionally regarded their country’s ‘borders’ with amusement. ‘Insurgency’ is their way of life.

    The sole ‘judgement’ will be one of political expediency

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 18 Jul 2005 on 3:46 pm | Link
  8. Iraq’s Child Prisoners

    A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that coalition forces are holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib. Witnesses claim that the detainees \x96 some as young as 10 \x96 are also being subjected to rape and torture
    By Neil Mackay

    It was early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says he witnessed the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. \x93The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets,\x94 he said in a statement given to investigators probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. \x93Then, when I heard the screaming I climbed the door \x85 and I saw [the soldier\x92s name is deleted] who was wearing a military uniform.\x94 Hilas, who was himself threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Graib, then describes in horrific detail how the soldier raped \x93the little kid\x94.
    In another witness statement, passed to the Sunday Herald, former prisoner Thaar Salman Dawod said: \x93[I saw] two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and [a US soldier] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners. The prisoners, two of them, were young.\x94

    It\x92s not certain exactly how many children are being held by coalition forces in Iraq, but a Sunday Herald investigation suggests there are up to 107. Their names are not known, nor is where they are being kept, how long they will be held or what has happened to them during their detention.

    Proof of the widespread arrest and detention of children in Iraq by US and UK forces is contained in an internal Unicef report written in June. The report has \x96 surprisingly \x96 not been made public. A key section on child protection, headed \x93Children in Conflict with the Law or with Coalition Forces\x94, reads: \x93In July and August 2003, several meetings were conducted with CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) \x85 and Ministry of Justice to address issues related to juvenile justice and the situation of children detained by the coalition forces \x85 Unicef is working through a variety of channels to try and learn more about conditions for children who are imprisoned or detained, and to ensure that their rights are respected.\x94

    Another section reads: \x93Information on the number, age, gender and conditions of incarceration is limited. In Basra and Karbala children arrested for alleged activities targeting the occupying forces are reported to be routinely transferred to an internee facility in Um Qasr. The categorisation of these children as \x91internees\x92 is worrying since it implies indefinite holding without contact with family, expectation of trial or due process.\x94

    The report also states: \x93A detention centre for children was established in Baghdad, where according to ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) a significant number of children were detained. Unicef was informed that the coalition forces were planning to transfer all children in adult facilities to this \x91specialised\x92 child detention centre. In July 2003, Unicef requested a visit to the centre but access was denied. Poor security in the area of the detention centre has prevented visits by independent observers like the ICRC since last December.

    \x93The perceived unjust detention of Iraqi males, including youths, for suspected activities against the occupying forces has become one of the leading causes for the mounting frustration among Iraqi youths and the potential for radicalisation of this population group.\x94

    Journalists in Germany have also been investigating the detention and abuse of children in Iraq. One reporter, Thomas Reutter of the TV programme Report Mainz, interviewed a US army sergeant called Samuel Provance, who is banned from speaking about his six months stationed in Abu Ghraib but told Reutter of how one 16-year-old Iraqi boy was arrested.

    \x93He was terribly afraid,\x94 Provance said. \x93He had the skinniest arms I\x92ve ever seen. He was trembling all over. His wrists were so thin we couldn\x92t even put handcuffs on him. Right when I saw him for the first time, and took him for interrogation, I felt sorry for him.

    \x93The interrogation specialists poured water over him and put him into a car. Then they drove with him through the night, and at that time it was very, very cold. Then they smeared him with mud and showed him to his father, who was also in custody. They had tried out other interrogation methods on him, but he wasn\x92t to be brought to talk. The interrogation specialists told me, after the father had seen his son in this state, his heart broke. He wept and promised to tell them everything they wanted to know.\x94

    An Iraqi TV reporter Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz saw the Abu Ghraib children\x92s wing when he was arrested by Americans while making a documentary. He spent 74 days in Abu Ghraib.

    \x93I saw a camp for children there,\x94 he said. \x93Boys, under the age of puberty. There were certainly hundreds of children in this camp.\x94 Al-Baz said he heard a 12-year-old girl crying. Her brother was also held in the jail. One night guards came into her cell. \x93She was beaten,\x94 said al-Baz. \x93I heard her call out, \x91They have undressed me. They have poured water over me.\x92\x94

    He says he heard her cries and whimpering daily \x96 this, in turn, caused other prisoners to cry as they listened to her. Al-Baz also told of an ill 15-year-old boy who was soaked repeatedly with hoses until he collapsed. Guards then brought in the child\x92s father with a hood over his head. The boy collapsed again.

    Although most of the children are held in US custody, the Sunday Herald has established that some are held by the British Army. British soldiers tend to arrest children in towns like Basra, which are under UK control, then hand the youngsters over to the Americans who interrogate them and detain them.

    Between January and May this year the Red Cross registered a total of 107 juveniles in detention during 19 visits to six coalition prisons. The aid organisation\x92s Rana Sidani said they had no complete information about the ages of those detained, or how they had been treated. The deteriorating security situation has prevented the Red Cross visiting all detention centres.

    Amnesty International is outraged by the detention of children. It is aware of \x93numerous human rights violations against Iraqi juveniles, including detentions, torture and ill-treatment, and killings\x94. Amnesty has interviewed former detainees who say they\x92ve seen boys as young as 10 in Abu Ghraib.

    The organisation\x92s leaders have called on the coalition governments to give concrete information on how old the children are, how many are detained, why and where they are being held, and in what circumstances they are being detained. They also want to know if the children have been tortured.

    Alistair Hodgett, media director of Amnesty International USA, said the coalition forces needed to be \x93transparent\x94 about their policy of child detentions, adding: \x93Secrecy is one thing that rings alarm bells.\x94 Amnesty was given brief access to one jail in Mosul, he said, but has been repeatedly turned away from all others. He pointed out that even countries \x93which don\x92t have good records\x94, such as Libya, gave Amnesty access to prisons. \x93Denying access just fuels the rumour mill,\x94 he said.

    Hodgett added that British and US troops should not be detaining any Iraqis \x96 let alone children \x96 following the recent handover of power. \x93They should all be held by Iraqi authorities,\x94 he said. \x93When the coalition handed over Saddam they should have handed over the other 3000 detainees.\x94

    The British Ministry of Defence confirmed UK forces had handed over prisoners to US troops, but a spokes man said he did not know the ages of any detainees given to the Americans.

    The MoD also admitted it was currently holding one prisoner aged under 18 at Shaibah prison near Um Qasr. Since the invasion Britain has detained, and later released, 65 under-18s. The MoD claimed the ICRC had access to British jails and detainee lists.

    High-placed officials in the Pentagon and Centcom told the Sunday Herald that children as young as 14 were being held by US forces. \x93We do have juveniles detained,\x94 a source said. \x93They have been detained as they are deemed to be a threat or because they have acted against the coalition or Iraqis.\x94

    Officially, the Pentagon says it is holding \x93around 60 juvenile detainees primarily aged 16 and 17\x94, although when it was pointed out that the Red Cross estimate is substantially higher, a source admitted \x93numbers may have gone up, we might have detained more kids\x94.

    Officials would not comment about children under the age of 16 being held prisoner. Sources said: \x91\x91It\x92s a real challenge ascertaining their ages. Unlike the UK or the US, they don\x92t have IDs or birth certificates.\x94 The Sunday Herald has been told, however, that at least five children aged under 16 are being kept at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.

    A highly placed source in the Pentagon said: \x93We have done investigations into accusations of juveniles being abused and raped and can\x92t find anything that resembles that.\x94

    The Pentagon\x92s official policy is to segregate juvenile prisoners from the rest of the prison population, and allow young inmates to join family members also being detained. \x93Our main concern is that they are not abused or harassed by older detainees. We know they need special treatment,\x94 an official said.

    Pentagon sources said they were unaware how long child prisoners were kept in jail but said their cases were reviewed every 90 days. The last review was early last month. The sources confirmed the children had been questioned and interrogated when initially detained, but could not say whether this was \x93an adult-style interrogation\x94.

    The Norwegian government, which is part of the \x93coalition of the willing\x94, has already said it will tell the US that the alleged torture of children is intolerable. Odd Jostein S\xE6ter, parliamentary secretary at the Norwegian prime minister\x92s office, said: \x93Such assaults are unacceptable. It is against international laws and it is also unacceptable from a moral point of view. This is why we react strongly \x85 We are addressing this in a very severe and direct way and present concrete demands. This is damaging the struggle for democracy and human rights in Iraq.\x94

    In Denmark, which is also in the coalition, Save the Children called on its government to tell the occupying forces to order the immediate release of child detainees. Neals Hurdal, head of the Danish Save the Children, said the y had heard rumours of children in Basra being maltreated in custody since May.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was \x93extremely disturbed\x94 that the coalition was holding children for long periods in jails notorious for torture. HRW also criticised the policy of categorising children as \x93security detainees\x94, saying this did not give carte blanche for them to be held indefinitely. HRW said if there was evidence the children had committed crimes then they should be tried in Iraqi courts, otherwise they should be returned to their families.

    Unicef is \x93profoundly disturbed\x94 by reports of children being abused in coalition jails. Alexandra Yuster, Unicef\x92s senior adviser on child detention, said that under international law children should be detained only as a last resort and only then for the shortest possible time.

    They should have access to lawyers and their families, be kept safe, healthy, educated, well-fed and not be subjected to any form of mental or physical punishment, she added. Unicef is now \x93desperately\x94 trying to get more information on the fate of the children currently detained in coalition jails.

    01 August 2004

    Comment by Article — 20 Aug 2005 on 3:05 pm | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


July 2005
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Jun   Aug »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh