» Monday, October 23, 2006


Asked whether it was Government policy to split Iraq into three as the Foreign Secretary had said it was up to the Iraqi Government, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said we had no reason to believe the Iraqi Government wanted anything other than a unitary state, but she had simply been reflecting that Iraq was a sovereign government. The democratically elected Government of Iraq would decide what happened in Iraq. There were no signs that the Iraqi Government wanted to split the country.

Asked what was the general discussion with the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister this morning, the PMOS said, as he had told journalists this morning, the strategy was as we had laid out in April 2004 for a process of Iraqiisation, and this was the strategy we had been following since then. It was about increasing the capacity and the capability of the Iraqi forces. Any changes of our forces would depend on how strong they were and the wishes of the Iraqi Government. Put that the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister had seemed worried that public opinion was changing here and in the US, the PMOS said that it was best to distinguish between public opinion and media opinion. Where we were was precisely as we had set out in April 2004. That was the strategy we were pursuing. The Prime Minister had made it clear on numerous occasions that we would stay until the job was done. The policy had never been to stay ad infinitum. The policy had always been that we stayed until the job was done. That remained the case. We had already succeeded in handing over control of two out of the four provinces in the south to the Iraqis.

Asked for a definition of "the job", the PMOS said if the journalist had been at this morning’s lobby he would have heard that definition. Since he was not the definition was that we had to get to a situation where the capacity and the capability of the Iraqi forces was such that they could take control of their own security and when there was agreement between the Iraqi Government and the Multi-National Force on that. Asked when we would be handing over the Basra province, the PMOS said we would hand provinces back in the same way we had done with the two already had handed back, which was as and when the Iraqi Government and we agreed that the time was right to do so. There was always a balance to be struck and it was about striking that balance. This was a process not an event.

Put that it had been suggested that the Maysan province would be handed over at the end of the year leaving only Basra, the PMOS said we could have working assumptions, however, the conditions had to bear out those working assumptions.

Asked whether the Prime Minister was still confident that history would prove him correct, the PMOS said that rather than getting to grand debate, the reality was that we had a democratically elected Government in Iraq, which we had not had before. If the invasion had not taken place, as the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister had said this morning, Saddam Hussein would still be in control. Progress was being made. Yes it was difficult. Yes there were those who wanted to destroy democracy in Iraq. But the question the critics had to answer was what price was there for defending democracy in a country such as Iraq. We believed that it was right to defend democracy, and to give Iraqis the chance to control their destiny. Asked whether that was a yes or no, the PMOS said that it had been a refusal to get drawn into the journalist’s line of questioning. Instead of hypothesising he had transferred it to what it meant on the ground. It meant that the Iraqis had a say in determining their future. We believed in that.

Asked whether there was a particular message the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister had been trying to get across, the PMOS said, as he had this morning, that this had been a routine meeting. The discussion had ranged far and wide. The important point was that the Prime Minister had repeated again, that we fully supported the Iraqi Government in trying to get to a situation where it could take control of its destiny. Asked to expand on the economic side of the discussion, the PMOS said that it had been an overview but those practical questions were best left to the Iraqi Government to address.

Asked whether the Prime Minister agreed with the Foreign Secretary’s comments that the foreign policy may or may not have been a mistake, the PMOS said he thought the Prime Minister was focused on making sure that we succeeded. The PMOS directed journalists again to the words of the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister who had said that the people here in the UK needed to be less pessimistic and more realistic. Being realistic meant recognising that there were those who were trying to destroy democracy in the Middle East because it did not serve their ends. We should persevere until that Iraq’s democracy succeeded. Put that the Foreign Secretary had been very low and was this because she not enjoying the job because Iraq was now a PR disaster, the PMOS said that this question had been put to him in a different way this morning and what he had said then was that the Prime Minister was prepared to take on the argument head-on as he had shown in his monthly press conference and at PMQs last week.

Put that by not speaking to the press with him that the Prime Minister had not stood shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister’s view, and experience would back this up, was that if he were to do that the press would only report what he had to say, not what the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister had to say. It was better from time to time for journalists to listen to what Iraqis, and in this case an Iraqi democratically elected by ordinary Iraqis, had to say.

Asked whether we were suggesting that success in the political arena was enough to say the job had been done following the Foreign Secretary’s comments that a democratically elected government was a big achievement, the PMOS said that you could not separate out security. It could not be put to one side. It was an important part of any nations make up. To do so was a gross case of over interpretation. As General Dannett had said we continued to believe that the goal was still a unitary state, which had democratically elected representatives responsible for the security of Iraq and a prosperous economy. That remained the goal. Asked whether the Foreign Secretary was up for the job, the PMOS questioned who, other than the pessimistic lobby, might be suggesting otherwise.

Asked whether the Prime Minister was worried about the implications of splitting Iraq into three, the PMOS said that he was not aware of anybody actually suggesting that. The election had seen Iraqis vote for a unitary state. They had not voted for separatist parties.

Asked if there had been any exchanges between Downing Street and the White House about the debate going on in Washington, the PMOS said that he knew the BBC was desperate to drag Downing Street into the Washington story, but Washington had its own dynamic at this moment and we should leave that story there. We remained in close contact with the administration and we continued to talk regularly with them, but what was going on politically in Washington that was a matter for them.

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

No Comments »

No comments yet.

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...


October 2006
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Sep   Nov »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh