» Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Iraq Debate

Asked why the Prime Minister would not be leading today’s debate, given that this was the first Government debate on Iraq, and secondly would there be any indications on British troops, the PMOS replied that what the coverage of this had missed out, was that this Prime Minster had never led a foreign affairs debate before, furthermore he did not think that this had been the practice in the past either. What the Prime Minster had given was a commitment to the House to make a statement once Operation Sinbad had finished and had been assessed. That would be the important point of decision about what our profile should be. That was the point at which the Prime Minister believed he should come to the House and explain what his decisions were and what the next steps would be.

Asked if we were any closer to knowing the timing of the statement, and what did the Prime Minister think of the idea of a timetable that would mean that all troops could be out of Iraq by October, the PMOS replied that our approach to Iraq had always been based on the conditions on the ground in Iraq. An arbitrary timetable would simply say to those who were opposed to us in Iraq that here was a target to aim at in terms on raising their profile. Secondly the basic question had to be answered, were we there to help the Iraqi Government extend its authority? If we were then the judgement should be whether we had been successful in helping them do so, or whether more time or more effort was required. If the approach was condition based, then an arbitrary timetable would not fit in with that.

Asked if there were any indications as to when Operation Sinbad would be over, the PMOS replied that the aim was to finish Sinbad at some stage during February. What we were not going to do was put an arbitrary deadline on that as it was down to the Commanders on the ground.

Asked if he would acknowledge that we had to keep a substantial troop presence in the South until the Americans had left, as from a tactical point of view they would have to leave via the South and so we could hardly leave the South to the Iraqis until the Americans had withdrawn, the PMOS said that we would be taking things one step at a time and would not be jumping ahead.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. If Yo Blair had bothered to turn up for the debate he could have given us some more spin about why we should support this:

    Short film report from Iraq:


    Comment by Walter — 24 Jan 2007 on 9:45 pm | Link

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