» Thursday, October 13, 2005


Asked if the issue of 90 day detention for terror suspects came up at Cabinet, the PMOS said no. At Cabinet Hilary Benn had updated his Cabinet colleagues on the Earthquake in Asia, and the brilliant work by staff from various departments in response to it. As the Prime Minister announced yesterday we would give £10million to the disaster appeal which, in addition to the £2million already contributed brought the total UK donation to £12million.

Jack Straw updated colleagues on Iraq, given that the vote on the constitution was this weekend. He said whilst no one was down-playing the difficulties on the security side, the political strategy was on track with the referendum this weekend and then the December elections. He said that was in spite of the attempts by the insurgency trying to stop a UN endorsed democratic process. The aim of the insurgency articulated in the letter from Al-Zawahiri to Al-Zarqawi recently published in the United States underlined what the Foreign Secretary had been saying. Asked about reports that the Foreign Secrteary had said it might take 10 years for democracy to take hold in Iraq, the PMOS said the Foreign Secretary had not said that. What he had said was that it would take time to make the transition from a failed state to a successful democracy. The comparison he had made in Cabinet was with post-war Germany where it actually took 4 years before national elections were held, whereas in Iraq it would take place in 2 years. So in terms of strategy, despite all the difficulties, which nobody was down-playing, we were very much on track.

Asked what the Prime Minister thought about the prospect that the insurgency in Iraq could continue for a very long time, the PMOS said that in terms of the letter from Al-Zawahiri to Al-Zarqawi, it showed us what the Al-Qaeda strategy was. That strategy was to defeat democracy because democracy was what they feared the most and advocating a permanent revolution. That was their goal and our response to that goal was to try and establish democracy. As the Foreign Secretary said at Cabinet, that strategy in Iraq, despite the insurgency, was on track. If you looked at the level of registration in Iraq for the Referendum and the December elections, the number of voters was rising compared to January. The people were engaged in the democratic process.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news


  1. What does ‘on track’ actually mean? And for that matter, what is the ‘track’.

    We should be told exactly what the UK ‘strategy’ is. Iraq was not a ‘failed state’ before the invasion. One may have disliked the regime, but it had not failed.

    No doubt Straw, with his minimal understanding, does equate post-war Germany with Iraq, but no one with an ounce of real intelligence would do so. His remarks are just posturing.

    Why does he believe that the democratic process as manifested within Europe will be adopted wholesale by a Middle Eastern people? Even the most ‘civilised’ Middle Eastern countries have regimes which are more ‘opressive’ than those in Europe.

    This is not to condemn the Iraqis, but let us recognise and clearly understand the huge cultural and social differences here.

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 14 Oct 2005 on 8:49 am | Link
  2. "The aim of the insurgency articulated in the letter from Al-Zawahiri to Al-Zarqawi recently published in the United States underlined what the Foreign Secretary had been saying"

    Would that be the letter which "Al Qaeda" say they didn’t write? So, um, who did? And why?

    As to the "strategy being on track", how he can even say that without laughing out loud beats me. And seeing as it took some blatant cheating by the Shia and Kurds to get within spitting distance (figuratively & literally…) of the referendum in any case, I wouldn’t hold too much store by the outcome of said referendum. Especially in Iraq, when we can’t even have free and fair elections in this country.

    To compare Iraq to post-war Germany is both wishful thinking and disingenious on the Straw man’s part. And I have no doubts that democracy will take 10 years to take hold. He only forgot to say "…because that’s the plan".

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 14 Oct 2005 on 5:26 pm | Link

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