FAC PN 08 (03-04)


2 February 2004

Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism

The Foreign Affairs Committee will publish its Second Report of Session 2003-04, ‘Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism’, at 2.30 pm today.  In its Report, the Committee makes the following conclusions and recommendations:

 1. We conclude that the Prime Minister was right to state that the trial process of Saddam Hussein should be determined by the Iraqi government-when it has been established-and by the Iraqi people. (Paragraph 17)

2. We conclude that since the removal of the Iraqi regime, a dangerous alliance of foreign fighters with terrorist allegiances and elements of the former Iraqi regime has been forming inside Iraq. It remains to be seen what effect the capture of Saddam Hussein has on this. (Paragraph 25)

3. We conclude it is unacceptable that comprehensive information is not available about detainees being held by the Occupying Powers in Iraq. We recommend that the British Government ensures that such information is provided as a matter of immediacy including the names of all detainees; their nationalities; where they are held; in what conditions they are held; what rights they have, including access to lawyers; the legal basis for their detention; the offences of which they are suspected or charged; and when and how they will be tried or released. (Paragraph 27)

4. We conclude that Iran and Syria have the potential to be destabilising factors in Iraq, and that maintaining co-operation with both is therefore essential for the success of Coalition efforts to bring stability to that country. We further conclude that the United Kingdom, through its diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria, could play a crucial role in ensuring this co-operation. (Paragraph 34)

5. We regret that some members of the Security Council Permanent Five and other countries with the capacity to assist have decided against contributing forces to help establish security in post-war Iraq.  We conclude that this failure to share the burden can only have increased the pressures on US and United Kingdom resources, both civilian and military, which in turn may have exacerbated the difficulties encountered by  the Coalition in establishing and maintaining security in Iraq. (Paragraph 37)

6. We conclude that the early decision to disband the Iraqi armed forces was entirely understandable in the conditions prevailing at the time, but that the re-establishment of such forces in an essential component of creating a new, safe and sovereign Iraq. (Paragraph 40)

7. We recommend that the Government set out, in its response to this Report, the means by which Iraqis are currently able to feed information about terrorists or other criminals into the CPA structures; and whether the CPA has plans to enhance the links between its own staff and the Iraqi population to facilitate the transfer of information. (Paragraph 43)

8. We commend the Government for the energetic measures it has taken to help establish a new Iraqi police force and recommend that this assistance is intensified in the critical remaining months before the handing back of sovereignty to Iraq on 1 July 2004. (Paragraph 45)

9. Subject to the wishes of the new Iraqi government, we recommend that the Government and its Coalition partners scale down their armed forces only as Iraqi forces demonstrate their capacity to establish and maintain security, and that the terms of any status of forces agreements reached with the Iraqi authorities should be consistent with this objective. (Paragraph 48)

10. We conclude that United Kingdom personnel in Iraq, both military and civilian, are making a vital contribution to the administration and reconstruction of the country, despite having to work in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Their performance deserves the highest praise, and appropriate recognition. (Paragraph 51)

11. We conclude that the Iraq operation has demonstrated once again the importance of security for the success of post-conflict peace operations. Though there was, perhaps understandably, insufficient anticipation by the British and American governments of the scale and severity of the security tasks facing the Occupying Powers in the immediate aftermath of the war, we reject claims that the Coalition's inability to create a fully secure environment in the immediate post-war period can be attributed entirely to serious failures either of policy or of planning. It is unfortunate and regrettable that the lack of law and order, and interruptions in essential services, resulted in a loss of goodwill among those worst affected, but we conclude that important progress is being made in winning this goodwill back. (Paragraph 57)

12. We conclude that it is unfortunate that the majority of Iraqis have very limited access to the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Interim Governing Council, and probably have little knowledge of their actions or policies, or receive through their media a distorted or one-sided view.  We further conclude that this isolation may well have increased Iraqis' sense of alienation from and hostility to the Occupying Powers and those working closely with them.  This underlines the importance of continuing to move Iraq further along to road to fully democratic governance as speedily as possible after the handover of sovereignty on 1 July.  (Paragraph 78)

13. We recommend that the Government, in alliance with its partners in the Coalition, do its utmost to improve the transparency of the CPA, the Governing Council and the Iraqi ministries. (Paragraph 83)

14. We conclude that the complexity of Iraqi society has rendered the development of broadly representative interim Iraqi structures extremely difficult.  We recommend that the Government, through work with its partners in the Coalition and through greater engagement with Iraqi society, seek to ensure that currently marginalised groups are identified and, where possible, included in Iraq's new government structures.  (Paragraph 87)

15. We conclude that the United Nations still has the potential to play an important role in facilitating political transition in Iraq, and in conferring legitimacy on the process. We further conclude that the attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad and the subsequent withdrawal of UN staff has had a serious-but, it is to be hoped, temporary-detrimental effect on the process of transition to a new Iraqi government. We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out what it is doing to promote, restore and strengthen the role of the UN in Iraq.  (Paragraph 92)

16. We commend the Coalition's provision of substantially increased salaries to Iraq's public sector workers, and conclude that this has contributed to the social stability and economic revival of Iraq in the immediate post-war period. However, we also recommend that the CPA urgently address the unemployment issues evident in the Basrah region. (Paragraph 96)

17.We conclude that the lack of information available to the Coalition when assessing the scale of the reconstruction effort needed in post-war Iraq contributed to the problems that it has faced in establishing credibility and maintaining the confidence of the Iraqi people. (Paragraph 102)

18. We conclude that despite some signs of economic revival since the war, Iraqis have been disappointed by the slow pace of reconstruction, although their expectations were probably unrealistic. We recommend that measures to increase the accessibility and transparency of the CPA, the Governing Council and Iraqi ministries are also used to ensure that Iraqi contractors are able to bid for reconstruction contracts. (Paragraph 106)

19. We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out its understanding of the extent to which the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions constrain the Occupying Powers' capacity to carry out economic reform, and how these constraints have affected the Coalition's operations in Iraq.  (Paragraph 108)

20. We conclude that sustainable economic development and diversification will be essential for the long term stabilisation of Iraq. We recommend that the Government do its utmost to ensure that the CPA and Iraqi ministries are staffed with experienced personnel, who are capable of drawing up and implementing plans for Iraq's economic development, including detailed and politically sensitive options for the distribution of Iraq's oil revenues.  (Paragraph 110)

21. We conclude that a continued United Kingdom military and civilian presence in Iraq is likely to be necessary for some time to come, possibly for several years.  We conclude that this presence must include a significant FCO component if it is to succeed, and we therefore recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out its plans for establishing full diplomatic and consular service in Iraq, including what services it intends to provide, who will provide them, where they will be provided, and over what timescale they will be introduced. (Paragraph 117)

22. We welcome the capture of Saddam Hussein, but conclude that the continued failure of the Coalition to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has damaged the credibility of the US and the United Kingdom in their conduct of the war against terrorism. (Paragraph 119)

23. We conclude that the war in Iraq has possibly made terrorist attacks against British nationals and British interests more likely in the short term. A successful transfer of power to an internationally-recognised Iraqi government, which has the support of the Iraqi people and which is recognised by Arab and muslim states generally, offers an important opportunity to reduce that threat and to assist the process of reform and stabilisation in the region. (Paragraph 123)

24. Although we recognise that Israel must protect its citizens from terrorist attack, and that in the absence of terrorist attacks Israel would not launch such strikes, we conclude that punitive strikes such as that which it launched against Syria in October are likely to be counter-productive, and may also constitute a breach of international law. We therefore conclude that the Government was right to join its EU partners in condemnation of the 5 October attack. We recommend that the Government use its influence with Israel, its neighbours, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian groups, to prevent the further spread of violence in the region (Paragraph 135)

25. We conclude that reform of the Palestinian security sector is central to the success of the Road Map and we commend the Government for its efforts to ensure that the Palestinian Authority carries out these reforms. However, we are concerned at the lack of progress and recommend that the Government redouble its efforts to ensure the success of the reforms. In particular, more should be done by the PA to arrest and bring to justice those responsible for the recruiting, training, equipping and launching of suicide bombers and to prevent the honouring and even encouraging of suicide bombers and their masters by Palestinian media. (Paragraph 147)

26. We recommend that the Government, with its European partners, apply further pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop the terrorist attacks. (Paragraph 148)

27. We conclude that the case for building a security fence along the Green Line would be strong and understandable, but to build it within the West Bank is neither justifiable nor acceptable and gives rise to fears that Israel intends to annex this land. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government set out the steps it is taking to dissuade Israel from taking such unilateral measures in the Occupied Territories. (Paragraph 157)

28. We conclude that the conditions under which many Palestinians currently live contribute to their radicalisation, and undermine support for moderate Palestinian leaders. We also conclude that Israeli actions within the West Bank are making the Palestinian economy unviable. (Paragraph 158)

29. We recommend that the Government continue to urge Israel to help "create a climate within which moderate Palestinian leaders can prevail." We further recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government outline the steps it is taking to do this. (Paragraph 159)

30. We are deeply concerned by Israel's maintenance and expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied territories and its construction of a 'security fence' on Palestinian land, and we conclude that these policies constitute a severe impediment to efforts to secure a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. We recommend that the Government make it absolutely clear in its public statements that Israel's fulfilment of commitments set out in the Road Map-including the dismantling of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001, and the freezing of settlement activity consistent with the Mitchell Report-must proceed immediately. (Paragraph 161)

31. We recommend that the Government, with its European Union partners, apply further pressure to Israel to implement the commitments it has made in the Road Map. (Paragraph 163)

32. We conclude that conditions in the occupied West Bank are changing rapidly, and that the continuation of Israel's current settlement policies, and its construction of the 'security fence', will make the eventual establishment of a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian state increasingly difficult, if not impossible. (Paragraph 164)

33. We conclude that if, over the next year to eighteen months, progress towards implementation of the Road Map is further delayed, the two-state solution which is the current objective of international efforts to resolve the conflict will become increasingly difficult to achieve. (Paragraph 166)

34. We conclude that early progress towards a negotiated settlement between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is a necessary component in the Government's efforts to promote stability and security in the wider Middle East region (Paragraph 167)

35. We conclude that the speech made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 18 December stating that Israel may "initiate the unilateral security step of disengagement from the Palestinians" and that this disengagement plan "will include redeployment of IDF forces along new security lines", coupled with the statement that "Israel will greatly accelerate the construction of the security fence" is a mater of deep concern.  We recommend that the Government, in its response to this Report, set out what steps it is taking to dissuade the Israeli government from taking such unilateral action.  (Paragraph 175)

36. We conclude that the US is by far the strongest external influence on the parties to the conflict and that the Road Map can only be restarted by the presence in the region of a very senior US representative willing and able to pressurise both sides into taking the necessary actions to make progress. We fear that forthcoming US elections are likely to diminish US commitment and action. (Paragraph 176)

37. We conclude that, regardless of its willingness to engage in resolution of the conflict, the European Union's capacity to apply effective pressure to the Israeli government is very limited in comparison to that of the United States. We further conclude that without sustained enhanced and effective external pressure, which at least in the short term appears unlikely, there are no prospects of an early settlement. (Paragraph 178)

38. We recommend that the Government do its utmost to promote greater US engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by stressing publicly that resolution of this conflict is an essential component in the wider US-led campaign to defeat Islamist terrorism and to promote reform in the Middle East region. In particular, we recommend that the Government seek to convince the US of the importance of sending a high-level emissary to the region. (Paragraph 181)

39. We conclude that the prospects for a diplomatic implementation of the Road Map are slight. To make the Road Map more efficacious, we recommend that its ambiguities should be clarified and its monitoring facilities strengthened to include a conflict-resolution mechanism. (Paragraph 183)

40. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government state its policy on a Chapter VII UN Security Council Resolution imposing a settlement along the Taba lines. (Paragraph 186)

41. We conclude that through its links with Palestinian terrorist organisations, Iran disrupts prospects for peace between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We further conclude that the Government, with its partners in the European Union, has a number of incentives-such as the Trade and Co-operation Agreement-which it can employ to help encourage Iran to cease its links with terrorist groups. We conclude that the Iranian authorities value these incentives and that their existence could be used to discourage Iranian support for Palestinian terrorist groups. (Paragraph 203)

42. We commend the Government's decision to work with France and Germany to help ensure Iran's agreement to the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  We conclude that this decision helped to ensure that the IAEA can now conduct intrusive inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities.  We further conclude that this episode demonstrates the potential of co-ordinated European action to address common security concerns, and that it demonstrates the continued relevance of multilateral arms control mechanisms. (Paragraph 221)

43. We conclude that although Syria's closure of the offices of terrorist groups in Damascus is a positive step, it continues to support terrorist organisations and has failed to restrain them beyond temporary efforts to limit their activities. (Paragraph 227)

44. We are concerned about the pursuit of WMD by Syria. However, we conclude that pressure alone is unlikely to succeed in gaining Syrian co-operation on WMD, and recommend that the Government pursue dialogue with Damascus in order to address this threat. (Paragraph 232)

45. We also recognise Syria's concerns about Israel's nuclear capability and recommend that the Government pursue this issue with the Israeli Government. We conclude that ultimately, a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Arab States will be required to address the issue of WMD and arms proliferation in the region, and we recommend that the Government seek to encourage Syria and Israel to return to the negotiating table. (Paragraph 233)

46. We conclude that, at this stage, it is better to foster gradual reform and co-operation with Syria than to push for unachievable objectives. Syrian co-operation is important for success in Iraq and the Middle East peace process. Given the failure of pressure alone to gain Syrian co-operation, we recommend that the Government continue to pursue constructive engagement and dialogue as the best way to foster co-operation. In particular, we recommend that the Government work to encourage Israel and Syria to resume peace negotiations, including giving its support to any regional efforts at mediation in the conflict, and generally to improve bilateral relations. We further recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government set out its position on the Golan Heights and the Israeli settlements there. (Paragraph 242)

47. We welcome Libya's decision to relinquish its WMD programmes and we commend the Government for its role in bringing this about. We also commend the Government's policy of engagement with Libya and note that it was essential to creating the environment that facilitated the secret talks that ultimately resulted in Libya's decision to end its pursuit of WMD. We further commend the co-operation between United Kingdom officials and their US counterparts during these secret talks. (Paragraph 249)

48. We conclude that the Libyan announcement sets a precedent for how to deal with 'rogue states' and could encourage other countries to improve their co-operation with the West. While we accept what the Foreign Secretary has said about the need for "a partner with whom to negotiate" for diplomacy to reap rewards, we recommend that the Government seriously consider the implications of events in Libya for relations with both Iran and Syria. (Paragraph 250)

49. We further recommend that the Government ensure that it does its utmost to fulfil its "responsibilities" to help Libya fully to enter the international community and derive the benefits of its co-operation, and that it work closely with the IAEA and OPCW to do this. We also recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government inform us of what steps it is taking to monitor closely Libyan compliance and to ensure that it does not lift the restrictions that remain on Libya too quickly. (Paragraph 251)

50. While Syria and Iran have not taken as many steps forward as they might, for example in taking a more constructive approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we conclude that the United Kingdom's approach to these two countries has already yielded some positive results. (Paragraph 252)

51. We further conclude that establishing and maintaining Iranian and Syrian co-operation in efforts to fight international terrorism, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to stabilise Iraq, will greatly increase the likelihood of success in the war against terrorism. We commend the Government's decision to engage actively with these countries. (Paragraph 253)

52. We commend the Government for its swift action in response to the Istanbul attack, and for the setting up of the FCO 24-hour response centre. However, we conclude that security measures at the Istanbul Consulate were clearly insufficient. We welcome the Government's review of the security of all overseas posts, which was announced by the Foreign Secretary on 2 December 2003, as well as the decision to review the FCO's security strategy. We look forward to being informed of the results of the review by the Foreign Secretary. (Paragraph 257)

53. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government set out its plans for the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee and what bilateral assistance it is giving, for example to Commonwealth countries. (Paragraph 261)

54. We conclude that although international co-operation on the war against terrorism has continued, there continue to be problems with regard to international co-operation on the measures against al Qaeda and the Taliban. We recommend that the Government encourage greater international co-operation on the UN mandated measures against al Qaeda and the Taliban. We further recommend that it consider how best to strengthen the UN Security Council resolutions relating to international terrorism. (Paragraph 266)

55. We remain concerned that al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations retain access to significant levels of funds. We commend the Government's efforts to tackle sources of terrorist funding and in particular its projects to tighten charity regulation. We recommend that the Government expand its programme of assistance in this field. We further recommend that the Government, in its response to this Report, provide us with a further update of its action in this area. (Paragraph 270)

56. We conclude that al Qaeda remains a substantial threat to the United Kingdom and to British citizens and facilities overseas, and that addressing the threat from al Qaeda and associated networks must remain a key priority in the United Kingdom's foreign policy. (Paragraph 276)

57. We commend the Government for the success of its Provincial Reconstruction Team in improving security in northern Afghanistan, and in particular in brokering a ceasefire between rival warlords.  (Paragraph 281)

58. We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out its plans to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, including through extending the provision of Provincial Reconstruction Teams. (Paragraph 283)

59. We commend the Government for supporting the development, together with its EU partners, of a Security Strategy. We conclude that the EU Security Strategy will help the Union to work more effectively towards the alleviation of common threats to the security of EU member states and their interests. (Paragraph 295)

60. We would welcome the return of the United Nations to Iraq in 2004, and we recommend that the Government do its utmost to work towards a new Security Council Resolution setting out the UN's role in the period of transition to a new Iraqi government (Paragraph 302)

61. We conclude that the United Nations has an extremely important role to play in the global campaign against terrorism, through provision of assistance through its specialised agencies, through establishing the legitimacy of interventions, and through providing the forum for dialogue between member states over the conduct of the campaign. We welcome the Secretary-General's decision to establish a panel to study global security threats and reform of the international system, and we recommend that the Government study its conclusions carefully when it makes its Report to the Secretary-General. (Paragraph 303)

62. Effective peace keeping and peace enforcement are currently essential to the successful pursuit of the war against terrorism. We recommend that the Government continue to work with its partners in NATO towards building the Alliance's capabilities in this area.  (Paragraph 308)

63. We commend the Government's decision to participate in the Proliferation Security Initiative, and we are pleased that the initiative "builds on efforts by the international community to prevent proliferation of such items, including existing treaties and regimes". (Paragraph 313)

64. We recommend that in its response to this report the Government set out the steps it is currently taking to help prevent proliferation of WMD, together with their components and technologies, from the stockpile of the former Soviet Union, from North Korea and from other WMD proliferating states and groups. (Paragraph 314)

65. We commend the Government for its efforts to promote democratic reform and to provide technical assistance in the Arab world. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government provide us with updated progress reports in this crucial area. (Paragraph 319)

66. We remain concerned at the Government's lack of progress in ensuring the fair trial of British citizens currently detained at Guantnamo Bay. We note that the current situation of uncertainty surrounding the fate of the United Kingdom detainees is unsatisfactory. We recommend that the Government continue to press the US towards trial of all the detainees in accordance with international law. (Paragraph 323)

67. We conclude that the threats facing the United Kingdom, both at home and overseas, in the war against terrorism have not diminished. We are encouraged, though, that the Government is working with partners in the European Union, the United Nations and NATO to reassess the respective roles of these multilateral institutions in tackling new security threats; and we commend the Government for its role in fostering this trend. (Paragraph 329)

68. Those who predicted the destabilisation of moderate regimes and the strengthening of extremist regimes in the Middle East following the invasion of Iraq have not been proved correct. There are now enhanced prospects for stability and democratic reforms in Iraq's neighbours, as well as a more favourable context for peace between Iraq and her neighbours than there has been for many decades. (Paragraph 330)