FAC PN 33 (05-06)

Sunday 2 July 2006

Embargoed until 00:01 Sunday 2 July 2006

Foreign Affairs Committee Publishes Report on Foreign Aspects of the War against Terrorism

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee today, Sunday 2 July 2006, publishes its report on the Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism.

The Committee concludes that al-Qaeda continues to pose an extremely serious and brutal threat to the United Kingdom and its interests, and that it will become more difficult to tackle the threat of international terrorism. The Committee also says that the situation in Iraq has provided both a powerful source of propaganda and a crucial training ground for international terrorists. Progress towards resolving key international conflicts would go some way towards removing the widespread feelings of injustice in the Muslim world that feed into causes of and support for terrorism. (Paragraphs 15, 21, 30)

The continuing deterioration of the security situation in Iraq is extremely worrying, as are the deepening sectarian and ethnic conflicts. Relying on Kurdish and Shia communities to build up the Iraqi Security Forces has contributed to the development of sectarian forces, and the Committee recommends that  the Government must continue to work with its international partners to address this problem. Similarly, the Government should do all it can to facilitate the UN's role in Iraq. The Committee reiterates its predecessor's conclusion that the international community, particularly the US and UK, must refrain from interfering in Iraqi politics. (Paragraph 232, 238, 261)

The Committee recommends that the Government should set out in its response to the report the circumstances under which it would withdraw British Forces from Iraq, and sets out several other issues it would also like the Government to address in the response, including the level of detentions by coalition forces, where it recommends that wherever and whenever possible detainees should be handed over to the Iraqi government for trial; that the government should set out the number detained and the basis for their detention; and the slow progress towards resolving the issue of how to regulate private military and security companies, which are increasingly being used in Iraq and elsewhere.(Paragraphs 245, 247, 253)

The Committee is concerned about the Iranian involvement in Iraq and that the organisation, weaponry and technology for a number of terrorist incidents in Iraq have come from within Iran.  Iran's position towards the 'war against terrorism' has been contradictory, and extremely unhelpful in a number of key areas. (paragraphs 265, 353)

There is also clear cause for concern over Iranian nuclear intentions. The Committee commends the high-level co-operation between the UK, France and Germany in their negotiations with Iran, and concludes that in the interest of legitimacy as well as effectiveness the maximum international consensus is desirable on any action taken against Iran. Military action would be likely to unleash a host of extremely serious consequences both in the Middle East and elsewhere, and would not be guaranteed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the long term. The Government should not undertake or support military action against Iran until all other options have been exhausted or without broad agreement among its international allies. Government should also make these points absolutely clear to the administration in Washington. (Paragraphs 303, 332, 340)

The Committee concludes that there has also been a worrying deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, with signs that the tactics that have brought such devastation to Iraq are being replicated there. The Committee recommends that Government set out what steps it is taking to prevent further such deterioration, and that it clarify the role of British personnel to avoid blurring of the UK’s counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics objectives in Afghanistan.  (Paragraphs 371, 391)

The Committee makes a number of other recommendations in other areas including the situation in Israel-Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, extraordinary  rendition and Guantanamo Bay. /ENDS


1. Media Enquiries or bids for the Chairman Mike Gapes: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, Tel 020 7219 0724 / 07917 488 447  email - bridgespalmerj@parliament.uk 

2.The Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for scrutinising the “administration, expenditure and policy” of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its associated agencies. The text of all Committee publications, including Reports, can be found on the Committee's  website at www.parliament.uk/facom