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Baroness Amos: My Lords, our forces have been engaged in working to reform the Iraqi army. This is one of the areas in which we hope there will be a wider international contribution, but we will, of course, continue to play a role.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, several references have been made to the courage of the British forces in Iraq, which I obviously endorse. However, I also commend our forces for the sensitivity with which they have been conducting their operations.
There has been some talk this afternoon about contact between the Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon and between the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Mr Colin Powell. Can the Minister tell us to whom Mr Bremer reports? The press reported about two weeks ago that authority for operations in Iraq had been removed from Mr Rumsfeld and given to Condoleeza Rice. But surely in the present circumstances, the reconstruction of Iraq is far from being solely a military questionthere ought to be far more input of politics. Why is Colin Powell not the authority to whom Mr Bremer reports? I realise that perhaps that is not our business, but can the Minister tell us to whom Mr Bremer reports?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, as he is the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, he reports to both governments. With respect to the role of Condoleeza Rice, she of course gives advice to the President.
Lord Morgan: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, asked about the economic restructuring of Iraq, which is surely a major cause of the violence in that country. What is happening is illegal. As the Attorney-General advised the Prime
With respect to privatisation and Iraq's future, this was agreed by the Iraqi Governing Council, although the order was signed by Paul Bremer. The Iraqi Governing Council was present at the meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in Dubai and it made the announcement about the future of Iraq with respect to its economic assets.
Lord Biffen: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree with me that it is quite remarkable to have restored the basic services in Iraq on the scale that has been achieved in the relatively limited time, compared with the great difficulties of restoring services in post-war Germany? But does she also agree with me that it is disappointing that there is no seeming enthusiasm, support or acceptance of the presence of the Americans and, to a lesser extent, ourselves, in Iraq, which underlines the very serious long-term problems of eventually securing a strategy for disengagement? Such a strategy certainly does not seem enhanced by the tone of the Americans in respect of Syria.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I totally agree with the noble Lord about how remarkable it is that basic services have been restored so quickly. What is sometimes forgotten are the years of underinvestment and neglect, which I saw when I visited Iraq earlier this year. We have been trying not just to restore services to their pre-conflict levels but to improve on that because the pre-conflict levels were, to be perfectly frank, not good enough as the resources were not going to the Iraqi people.
On the acceptance of the coalition forces, I remind noble Lords of the YouGov poll, which shows clearly that support for the coalition forces has gone up from some 75 per cent to some 90 per cent. I do not know whether the noble Lord saw the balanced report on
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the noble Baroness has told the House that Mr Paul Bremer reports to both governments. Can she also tell your Lordships on how many occasions Mr Paul Bremer has been to London and when she next expects a visit from him here?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I am not able to answer that questionI do not have the figures in my head, but I will happily write to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. He will be aware that we have our own representative in Iraq, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who works very closely with Paul Bremer and who comes back to London on a regular basis. The contact between Paul Bremer, who is reporting to both the US and UK, and Jeremy Greenstock, who is reporting to the UK Government, is very close.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, is it not about time that we listened carefully to the case being made by Massoud Barzani, Jalal Talabani, Allawi, Ahmed Chalabi and all the other leading members of the IGC who are all saying that the Americans should, as a matter of urgency, transfer responsibility for security from the CPA to the IGC? I know that is being resisted by Bremer, but is there not now responsibility on the British Government to take more of a brinkmanship position in negotiations with the United States of America and effectively demand that that transfer takes place? If it does not, these people on the IGC are predicting a disaster inside Iraq.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, my noble friend will be aware that robust discussions are going on, not only within Iraq and among members of the IGC. It is not surprising that there are differences of opinion, given that those are individuals representing different shades of political opinion in Iraq with respect to Next Steps and the best way forward.
Our commitment as the coalition is to transfer authority across a wide range of themes and issues as quickly as possible. Of course, there are UN security resolutions that give us the context in which we are debating that. In that context, there is also an ongoing discussion between the IGC, the CPA, our Government, the United States Government and the UN about how we can best deliver that.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord's final point about local elections, I assure him that the discussions currently taking place in the IGC encompass a whole range of different possibilities.
On his earlier point about Arabic language policing and disarmament, he may be aware that the police training facility is being established in Jordan. On the disarmament point, there is the difficulty of disarming the criminal elements who were let out of prison by Saddam Hussein, as against working to disarm and work to a new kind of Iraqi police force and army as part of the wider security sector reform process.
Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, it is obvious that a great deal of good work has been done and is going on. However, what has been brought out today is without a doubt the nigger in the woodpileif such an expression is allowed any more. What has been brought out is that security is the essential point. Can the Minister give us any indication that would back up her statement that security is improving? For example, some of the worst things to have happened are the attacks on the oil pipelines. Is that still going on, or have they got it under control? That would be a sign that security is improving.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I believe that I made it clear in a previous answer that we feel that the security situation for Iraqis is improving, although our forces and international agencies remain very vulnerable indeed. When my noble friend Lady Symons visited Iraq, she reported that the women to whom she spoke said that there were far fewer attacks on women and girls, for example. Other ministerial colleagues who have visited Iraq more recently than I have, have also commented on the fact that Iraqis themselves have talked about an improving security situation, but we are in no way complacent.
Improving the security situation remains our overriding considerationto improve the security environment for our forces and for those others in the Coalition Provisional Authority and working with international agencies, and for Iraqis themselves. That will enable a faster pace for reconstruction.
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