Reconstruction
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As it's now February 2012 and there's still no sign of an official report ... this page is dedicated to a continuation of our back of a fag packet analysis of the Iraq Inquiry.  Our inital interpretation of the transcripts (entirely filmed in Xtranormal) can be found here.    Here's a quick resume of what we've covered so far in previous articles:


Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 1 Covers public evidence from Christopher Meyer, Jeremy Greenstock, Tim Dowse, Edward Chaplin, Sir David Manning, Sir William Patey, Vice Admiral Charles Style, General Sir John Reith, Alister Campbell, Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff and Geoff Hoon
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 2 Covers public evidence from Jonathan Powell, Lord Goldsmith, Margaret Beckett, John Hutton, Sir Kevin Tebbit, General the Lord Walker of Aldringham, Clare Short, Ann Clwyd, Gordon Brown and endless analysis of what Jaques Chirac meant without asking him.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 3 Covers public evidence from Douglas Alexander, David Miliband, Cathy Adams,  Sir John Holmes, Sir Jonathan Cunliffe, Mark Etherington CBE and Lord Boateng.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 4 Covers public evidence from Carne Ross, Lt Gen Sir James Dutton KCB CBE, Stephen White, Baroness Elizabeth Manningham-Buller, Sir Peter Spencer KCB, Lord Prescott, Tony Blair (again) and Jack Straw.  It also covers some ludicrous conspiracy theories.
Most of the first 4 pages are brief commentary with the transcripts re-edited in Xtranormal format (the videos are also on Youtube).  For the next article we tried a different approach with a mixture of commentary, transcripts and Xtranormal animation...
MI6 goes Pear Shaped Iraq Covers SIS private evidence from MI6 officers SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 and C (Sir Richard Dearlove).  The Iraq Inquiry have so far interviewed (as far as I can figure out) at least 12 members of MI6. SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 have all had their transcripts published in some form whereas statements have been made that SIS8, SIS9 and SIS11’s transcripts will never be published due to the fact that “The Committee has concluded, in line with its Protocols, that it would not be possible to redact and publish the transcript without rendering it unintelligible”. Which leaves open the question of what’s happened to SIS7, SIS10 and SIS12’s testimony and will we ever see a transcript because the inquiry has not made a statement that we wont…?


As you can see we started with the public hearings - the ones on the telly.  It took a long time to read literally all of the public hearings transcripts.  We then attempted to read some of the private evidence redacted transcripts on the back pages of the website... this too was a herculean   task in overcoming boredom.  So we concentrated last time on the secret service evidence where we devised the Mansfield Smith-Cumming layout method of trying to make transcripts slightly more digestable with coloured ink...



By the way if you cant see the inline videos properly you're probably using the 64 bit version of Windows Explorer 9. Use a 32 bit version - you can download off the Microsoft website. Or just use a browser that isn't entirely composed of old ActiveX controls and actually uses the HTML standards because its not built by egomaniacs. You can also view all the animations here if that's easier or on this Youtube page. As stated in the previous article this page is nonsense. If you want a sensible analysis instead try the Iraq Inquiry Digest

The Iraq Inquiry has slipped out of the headlines for a while as all the verbal evidence has been submitted so there’s little to report.   Anyway (as someone pointed out to me when I told them I was writing this piece) …isn’t everybody busy with the ourobours that is Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry into press ethics?  Well one reason Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry is so much more entertaining is that he has some actual power whereas ...Sir John Chilcot has no actual powers so the thing will doubtless drag on forever while he haggles behind the scenes with the government for access to various documents which he probably hopes have been lost too.... 




...and will not be released until the final report is published in case the documents released result in a need to release more documents because they show that documents are missing which need to be found which cant be ... or something.  Or put simply Gus O'Donnell and Sir John Chilcot have done a deal. 

Gus O'Donnell has promised to release more classified documents ON CONDITION that Sir John Chilcot doesn't publish them on the website but only releases them when the final report is produced?  This is in slight contradiction to the Inquiry's previous policy of publishing declassified documents as it goes along but is justified on the grounds that hopefully one day there will be an end to it?  With the draft report hopefully being handed to the government this Summer - although the Government still retains it's rights to redact elements from the public report.

Not that the Leveson Inquiry isn't equally important.  That is why it is headed by a Judge who can threaten people with prison if they dont cooperate.  What is more important than the messages on people's answerphones after all?  Conversely it is vital that stories are only published if they are in the public interest and an end is put to all malcious tittle tattle.  For example ....



Clearly it is not important or in the public interest Steve Coogan's privacy being invaded.  Steve Coogan's sex life is of no political interest and there is no political dimension to his comedy.  He and Armando Iannucci seldom criticise those of differing political persuasions or express satirical views on sexual ethics. Neither have either of them ever commented or satirised any particular newspaper or political party they dont like. There is no similarity between Alan Partridge and Steve Coogan.  Just as there is no similarity between Borat and Sacha Baron Cohen.  Alan Partridge is a purely ironic depiction.  Seldom does one meet someone playing a comedy character on stage and not remark to one's self how divorced their private life is from the fantasy they present. For example there simply is no excuse for the level of press interest in Hugh Grant's private life. 



The fact that a man who uses prostitutes made his fortune from saccharin depictions of romantic upper class English gentlemen who are only seeking one monogamous relationship that will bring them true happiness and total fulfilment forever but does not seem to live that lifestyle himself has no bearing on his right to privacy.  Entertainment is not the real word or a mirror to it.  For this reason no one should write about Max Mosley simply because they are curious. All journalism should be in the public interest and all fiction should be just that fiction.  In the bicentenary of Charles Dickens imagine what Dickens's work would have been like if he had confused his journalism with fiction.  If he had confused fantasy with biography and not, like Olivia Manning or George Orwell, drawn an iron curtain between his satirical private fantasy writing and his biographical and journalistic endeavours.   Imagine if the characters in the Fortunes or War saga had just been thinly disguised parodies of people who drank in the Fitzroy Tavern - it would be as dull as the Phantom Menace in 3D.



Imagine if Dickens had written about people who interested him rather than were deemed to be acting or not acting in the public interest.  He would have been in all sorts of trouble.  Fortunately he was a responsible writer who was never involved in sting operations or threatened with libel action by angry dwarfs.



Imagine if early George Orwell novels had been such thinly disguised satires of the Burmese police force that Victor Gollancz had been reduced to simply changing the names and crossing his fingers.  Imagine if today policemen wrote such records of events under pseudonyms - this would be fine and dandy and absolutely no breach of trust between themselves and their employers even if they published them on the internet for the whole world to read. Why ....  They'd probably win the Orwell Prize.  Incidentally a cash prize you cant win unless you enter yourself.  There'd clearly be no public interest in finding out who was leaking such potentially sensitive information... etc  There is no public interest in the highly merchandised and monetised world of police blogs and no invasion of the crime victim's privacy by such material.  Still I suppose it stops them selling their stories to the press if they can self-monetise...?



Imagine a world where people wrote about what interested them and not what is in the public interest.  It would be so dull.  It’s like Boris Pasternak.  I used to admire his work. I shouldn't admire it now.   I should find it absurdly personal – like tabloid journalism. Don't you agree? Feelings, insights, affections...  it's suddenly trivial now in the age of the Leveson inquiry. You don't agree; you're wrong.  The personal life is dead in British Journalism. Murdoch has murdered it as surely as Mr Murdstone. I can see why you might hate me.  Anyway, these are the kind of weighty issues which we cannot comment on with authority at the Pear Shaped Comedy Club.  So we have decided instead to return to reviewing the evidence of the Iraq Inquiry.
It might be as dull as seismic velocity estimation and time to depth conversion of time-migrated images*….  But this article  ...

IS
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. 


Anyway, that’s why we’re still doing the Iraq Inquiry and not Leveson.  You wanted journalistic and artistic responsibility?  Well, to paraphrase Lydia Grant in the 80s television series “Fame”: Well, responsibility costs. And right here is where I start boring.


*Sorry Robin Ince but reading such documents had not brought me "happiness"

Yes, be warned this article is very very very very dull.  In total 35 witnesses were interviewed in “private” by the Inquiry.  We have so far covered 7.  That left 22.  This article deals with another 7 ... reducing the unread pile to 15 (although some people like Edward Chaplin) were invterviewed more than three times in public and or private)…

Anyway this article attempts to give a brief outline of the diplomatic and reconstruction effort... concentrating on the private evidence of Britains Ambassadors and contrasting it with the evidence of the most "minor" functionaries in the DFID (Department for International Development) as their testimony was, in my view the most amusing and tactless.  As we are now bored with the starship Enterprise the new animations take place in a seedy empty restaurant and on the set of the Big Lebowski ...as those are the places Xtranormal seems to have the rights for.  I hope they do anyway.  I'm not re-animating this stuff again... so...
 
on the
Let's start with UK's Ambassadors to Iraq...




... from left to right Edward Chaplin CMG OBE, The Hon Dominic Asquith CMG and Christopher Prentice CMG, HM Ambassadors to Iraq (2004 – 2009 collectively)


Edward Chaplin, Christopher Prentice and Dominic Asquith (the 3 Ambassadors to Iraq after the invasion) have previously been interviewed in public but they were also invited back for a private evidence session.  As usual Chilcot welcomes them to the enquiry in the avuncular manner of Toby Hadoke hosting a Doctor Who DVD commentary.  However, Dominic Asquith is late.  So as soon as Chilcot starts the questions…

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: You took up your appointment as ambassador just as the Iraqi interim government led by Allawi had taken office. You reported after your meeting with Allawi on 17 July that his "desire for an overall strategy which includes economic and political elements is sound, and his wish for specific UK help sincere, especially when he thinks we do things better than the United States".

THE CHAIRMAN: Shall we pause?

DOMINIC ASQUITH: I'm so sorry.

THE CHAIRMAN: Not at all.

DOMINIC ASQUITH: I have run.

…he has to start again.

THE CHAIRMAN: Can I just say one thing? I read the standard opening mantra, but there's one bit I probably ought to lay emphasis on, which is that if evidence is given during this hearing which doesn't relate to classified documents or engages any of the sensitive categories in our protocol, that evidence would be capable of being published, but subject to the letter you have had from the Inquiry Secretary.  Martin, apologies, let's restart.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: I was just quoting from your report, your general point about Allawi's desire for an overall strategy including economic and political elements being sound, and his wish for UK help sincere, especially, as you wrote, when he thinks we do things better than the United States. What I want to ask first, really, is what were your expectations of his government when first appointed, and how did he live up to them?



THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just ask, in Baghdad, de-Ba'athification must have had the effect of removing pretty well the totality of experienced professional intelligence.

EDWARD CHAPLIN: Yes, that's a good point, both in the military and on the intelligence side. De-Ba'athification might in some civilian ministries stop at a reasonable middle level, although even then it was a problem. But certainly the intelligence structure would have been swept away completely.

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Could I add one thing? Am I allowed to chip in on that?

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, please.

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Certainly in the period of August 2004, when I was there and Edward was off out of the country, which coincided with the whole Najaf fiasco or operation, it was very clear what Allawi was after. There were two things he was after. He was after an independent intelligence service, and he felt that [redacted]. So that made it extremely difficult to intervene or interweave ourselves into the structures because they were jealously guarding their assets. But secondly, what he wanted was [redacted].

Who knows what Allawi wanted?  Allawi was the leader of a political party called the Iraqi National Accord (INA) (known inside Iraq as Wifaq - it still get substantial votes) founded in 1991.  In 1996 30 Iraqi military officers were executed and 100 others were arrested for alleged ties to the INA by Saddam Hussein.  It was said to be feeding information about WMD to the CIA.  Whatever the truth, Ayad Allawi became one of Iraq's first unelected Presidents during the period when the Presidency of the Governing Council was rotated and later one of it's first Prime Ministers 28 May 2004 – 7 April 2005


The Najaf fiasco was some kind of punch up in ...erm Najaf between Abdul Majid al-Khoei (on the right here)


and Haider al-Kadar (not pictured).  Who exactly was nice or nasty I'm not entirely sure but that it didn't work out from a diplomatic perspective is pretty clear from the fact that when the two men met up they ended up each in several pieces... "It's unclear how the fighting started, but both men, al-Kadar and al-Khoei were eventually hacked to death with swords and knives. Many onlookers said that the crowd was so angry at the attempt to reinstall the hated al-Kadar in the holy shrine that they cut him into little pieces. Al-Khoei, it appears, was killed either because he was viewed as an American puppet attempting to supplant the local successor to al-Sadr, or because he was supporting a member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party."


MORE REDACTION

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: With regard to the January elections, did we hope that Allawi would stay because we felt he would be more likely to deliver our agenda?

DOMINIC ASQUITH: That certainly was the view of quite a large number of us, yes, from the Prime Minister downwards.

EDWARD CHAPLIN: He was a genuinely secular figure who was Shia but not sectarian, seen as non-ideological, a tough man, someone who would have some credibility with the military and so on. So from that point of view he seemed a better choice than some of the others emerging.

CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE: Just exactly on that point, I think seeing Allawi's performance in the recent election and the way that he is now presented tends to confirm that judgment.

THE CHAIRMAN: I'm just going to ask, thinking of the American perspective on it, were they heavily invested in Chalabi and the other emigres associated with him?

EDWARD CHAPLIN: I think parts of the American administration were heavily invested in that. The people Chalabi had managed to get to and charm them into thinking that, actually, if you just handed the whole project over to him, it would all be sweetness and light. But I don't think [redacted] and certainly didn't go out of their way to favour his ascendency.

This is followed by the quite blunt admission that…



DOMINIC ASQUITH: The American relationship with Chalabi was an extraordinary one, and changed 180 degrees as he changed 180 degrees in about May 2004, [redacted]



Ahmed Abdel Hadi Chalabi is a very interesting man.  He started his career as a mathematician (I'm sure we're all read his definitive paper "Modules over group algebras and their application in the study of semi-simplicity.") who did a lot of work in the same fields as Paul Erdos (pictured above) and from this became involved with cryptography ... always a good subject to study if you want to hang out down the CIA.  After a spell in banking which resulted in him being convicted in absentia in Jordan where they changed the tax system or something to annoy him.... he became involved with the Iraqi National Congress.... information from an NIC source relating to WMD somehow ended up at the CIA via an agent quaintly named "Curveball".  His accusations (via German intelligence) about mobile WMD sites ended up in a speech by Colin Powell to the UN ...






....unfortunately he then went on to tell the Guardian they were bollocks.  Anyway
Ahmed Abdel Hadi Chalabi ended up in charge of "deBaathification" after the invasion - removing Saddam's old guard from positions of power.  The only problem with this was that the invasion was in 2003.  And it is stretching creduility to the limit for him to have still been using these powers to ban up to 500 candidates from participating in the general election of March 7, 2010 ... anyway he's still knocking about somewhere... and one can see why the US might have had second thoughts...


DOMINIC ASQUITH:  He was pretty well out of the reckoning in terms of a political role -- a national political role, as opposed to a specific political role he had in charge of the de-Ba'athification Committee -- until roughly the beginning of 2007 when he came back into the fold through the Iraqi-led security operation. Then he stayed in the reckoning, I guess. But there was a long sort of Churchill period in the wilderness.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: He never got votes, did he?

DOMINIC ASQUITH: And he was consistently in opinion polls the most unpopular Iraqi politician.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: How did he hold on to the de-Ba'athification role?

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Because he had all the information. As soon as we went in in 2003, he took over all the documents into his possession. He possessed all the skeletons and didn't release them.


CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE: He was the Daily Telegraph.

There then follows a slightly redacted discussion of Allawi’s strengths and weaknesses

EDWARD CHAPLIN: I don't know how serious, looking back, it was. At the time it seemed quite serious. [redacted] Sistani was his own man. He had to take account of the Iranian assets that they had built up. And there was a time just after the elections in the long process and the formation of the new government, which took about three months, where Sistani...


....., through his right-hand man, Shahrastani, was pleading with Allawi to come into the government to play a role in the government, which Allawi refused because he couldn't bear to be labelled as Sistani's man.   Actually, in retrospect, and given what Christopher has just said about the way he came out in his latest elections, it was probably right for him to have a spell out of the government, [redacted] .

The Sistani referred to (and pictured) above is, of course, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani the highest-ranking Twelver Shia marja in Iraq and the leader of the Hawza of Najaf.  Without going into too much technical detail that'd probably offend someone there are three main branches of Islam and as we can see from this map I nicked off wikipedia...



...Iraq is quite unique in that it is neither mostly Sunni nor Shir but about a 50% mixture.  Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was, of course, a Sunni and was not very nice to people like Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani.  Then again maybe it'd be more accurate just to say that Saddam was not very nice. Actually there are as many sub branches of Sunni and Shir as there are of Christianity probably so it does actually get quite complicated.  It's not generally noticed but there are many other religious groups in Iraq too.  Particularly Mandaeism - an obscure gnostic sect ...

 


...who as far as I can figure out are what is left of John the Baptist's followers who didn't hook up with Christ ... a sort of SDP of Abrhamic religions.

By the way if you're wondering how someone gets to be a Grand Ayatollah I'm not sure exactly but I believe some kind of theological peer review process is involved.  I mention this because we're often told peer review is entirely sensible.

Anyway we then move onto a discussion of the Iraqi Constitution which I’ll simplify to

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Do you think, during your time in Iraq, we reached the right balance between being low profile and being pro-active in the early stages of the constitution discussions? 

EDWARD CHAPLIN: Yes.

… and a long redacted discussion about......... Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jaafari ...


...who was Prime Minister of Iraq in the Iraqi Transitional Government from 2005 to 2006, following the January 2005 election. He was previously one of the two Vice-Presidents of Iraq under the Iraqi Interim Government from 2004 to 2005, and he was the main spokesman for the Islamic Dawa Party. He withdrew his nomination for premiership for the permanent government because he disagreed with some of the Kurdish leaders with regards to securing Kirkuk as part of Iraq - there is a massive oil field underneath Kirkuk.  After about seven decades of operation, Kirkuk still produces up to 1 million barrels per day (160,000 cubic metres per day), almost half of all Iraqi oil exports.  Okay since you asked here's a picture of one of my previous employers...

...on Panorama trying to explain exactly how come the Kurdistan Regional Government sells it's own oil licences when they're not actually an independent state in the eyes of the central Iraqi government or the UN.  I'm not sure but I think the answer is no one's entirely sure if it's legal but "it's cheaper in terms of exploiting resources faster".... not to mention that a military crackdown on Kurdistan may upset Iran and Turkey and lead to civil war.  The relationship between Kurdistan and Bagdad is a bit like the relationship Northern Ireland has had with the UK... sometimes a bit strained.

THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just ask at this point, there is a strong Shia-Kurdish axis going on, isn't there, in mutual interest? From our perspective, did that carry more of a risk of Sunni exclusion or -- and perhaps it's the same thing, only more extreme -- an actual risk of break-up? 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Very much both. The Kurds had jealously guarded from 2003 what they had achieved in their view in the ten or so years before, and were not going to relinquish any of the autonomy that they had secured beforehand.

EDWARD CHAPLIN: .... it was really only a few weeks before I left that the government itself got into operations. You would have to ask William Patey if he was here about the nitty-gritty of that.

Dominic Asquith then goes on to describe trying to start a government with Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jaafari and brands him as ...well, a chronic bore ...far more interested in discussing Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria or whichever historical figure he saw as analogous to himself than in the issue at hand....  Then again it could be that al-Jaafari just didn't like or trust Asquith and diverting every conversation into a historical dissertation made it easier to frustrate the twit.  "We used even to get onto Greek mythology".



SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I want to look at the December 2005 elections and Maliki.  Just to start off with, looking at the Defence and Overseas Policy on Iraq, of 1 December 2005 when you were present, it's sort of an assessment of the coming elections and what's likely to happen. It's quite upbeat. The prospect of the Sunnis coming back into government is assessed. I was struck by something the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said, summing up:



"We should emphasise to the United States that actions on the part of the Shia such as the recent discoveries of illegal prisons and potentially large-scale disqualifications of respectable the Sunni candidates, risk provoking civil war more than the terrorist actions off Al-Zarqawi." 

Was that a general view at that time? 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Can I set it in context? 

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Please do. 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Then I think I can answer that question better.

The answer must indeed have been excellent as several pages are redacted after which we wander into an analysis of President Maliki’s election.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We hadn't really thought of Maliki. As far as I can see, he doesn't appear in any of the papers until quite late on. So how did we view his emergence, when we became aware of this? Was there is a good reason why we missed out on him as a potential contender? 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: The last question first. Yes, because he was not a prominent political figure in the Daw'a Party. He had occupied no position where we had had to deal with him. He wasn't even viewed inside the Daw'a Party as a leading contender, and he came through at the end very much as the compromise candidate because nobody could agree on the other candidates.

… it seems President Malik was a bit of a John Major character… chosen not for his personality but simply as the person least likely to cause splits...

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But in terms of his emergence, he got in as a compromise, reading the papers, because he seemed more nationalist and less pro-militia than perhaps other candidates? 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: I think he principally got in because the supporters of the other candidates wouldn't switch their vote to alternatives, except for him. I think for the supporters of the alternative candidates, he was the one they could bring themselves to vote for because he wasn't the other.

There follows a messy redacted conversation about the Presidential runners and riders that ends with

DOMINIC ASQUITH: It's unquestionably true. It's unquestionably true. Kalilzad, as so often the Americans did on all the government formations that I witnessed, changed his views.

 


This is a reference to Zalmay Khalilzad the US Ambassador

THE CHAIRMAN: Mehdi had been our hope, hadn't he? 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Mehdi had been the hope for some, but he had supporters and detractors.



Adil (Adel) Abdul-Mahdi (al Muntafiki) ...the first Vice President of Iraq was leader of the Shia party the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, or SIIC which had been based in Iran until the overthrow of Saddam...

EDWARD CHAPLIN: It's a good example of the messy world of Iraqi politics. We liked him because he seemed to be pretty capable. In the Allawi government, he was a fairly capable Minister of Finance. The Kurds liked him. He had spent a long time in Kurdistan. That was precisely why he didn't recommend himself as a favourite candidate to the Shia. So even if Khalilzad had favoured Mehdi, I'm not sure he would have succeeded in getting his way. 

CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE: It was said in my time that he had switched, come across the political spectrum so many times. He started as a communist and ended up being accused of being susceptible to Iranian influence.

DOMINIC ASQUITH: And Ba'athist. He was a communist and a Ba'athist. 

CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE: But in my time, anyhow, he was pre-eminent as the sensible, moderate, balanced person with vision, and wasted as Vice President.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Let's move on to discuss the policies of the Maliki government…

DOMINIC ASQUITH: I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt at that stage, and said as much the following month in my almost - first impressions dispatch, where I pointed out that his intentions, even to his own government, were an enigma. Was he a sectarian going through the motions of reconciliation, or was he a genuine power sharer who was constrained by Shia supremacists? At that stage I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, that he was somebody who was prepared to support reconciliation and recognise that as important. 

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But you changed your view on that? 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: By the time I left in August I was persuaded that what he understood as reconciliation was not what we understood as reconciliation. It was reconciliation on Shia terms, and it was some participation in government, but it was not in any sense forgiveness or an attempt to wipe the slate clean of the past.

We then move into redacted territory again.  We’re allowed to read this bit about how Britain was operating then in relation to The Mahdi Army, also known as the Mahdi Militia or Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) in Basra in May 2007:

CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE on Malaki and the JAM





…before it all goes redacted again.


Muqtada al-Sadr (pictured) fourth son of a famous Iraqi Shi‘a cleric, the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr and son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir As-Sadr organized thousands of his supporters into a political movement - the titular Sadar Movement of which the Mahdi Army (JAM) is the paramilitary wing...  The name Mahdi refers to "the Mahdi", a long-since disappeared Imam who is believed by Shi'a Muslims to be due to reappear when the end of time approaches.  The Mahdi were very active round Basra and after the success of the initial invasion it came to be noticed that the malitias had somehow got effective control of the city due to the small number of British troops on the ground?  Indeed at one point the army and the British support staff were pretty much imprisoned at either the Palace or the Airport.  This changed in 2008 when the central Iraqi civilian government and the British government jointly agreed on an opperation to cut down on the militias called the "Charge of the Knights".



CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE: Charge of the Knights was a turning point for Iraq, a positive one. There's no doubt about that. 

DOMINIC ASQUITH: Charge of the Knights was no different from an operation we had proposed to Maliki, called Operation SALAMANCA, which he had turned down. It was almost identical in every respect. 

CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE: That was part of what I had tried to persuade him of in April, but that was a delicate point. 

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What do you think caused the shift? Was it just his own frustration with the local Shia politics of Basra? Was that to impose his own authority on it? 

CHRISTOPHER PRENTICE: I think a number of trends were coming together at that point. I referred earlier to his progressive sense of himself as Prime Minister, the power of the office. He was a centraliser, somebody who believed in strong central government.

After a little more of little interest and a little redaction the private evidence moves onto the more enlightening subject of ....

Civil Servants on the Ground


Jonny Baxter, Richard Jones, Kathleen Reid, Rob Tinline and John Tucknott were minor functionaries in the Department for International Development (Iraqi Branch).  They were interviewed about their time in Bagdad and Basra from 2007 to 2009.

Sir John Chilcott



explains that

Now, the session today is being held in private because we recognise that, at the time you served in Iraq, some of you were not yet in senior Civil Service grades, and that's our cut-off point. The advantage is that most of the evidence today, though heard in private, will not be sensitive within the categories set out in our Inquiry Protocol on Sensitive Information, which in essence points to international relation questions or secret intelligence or highly classified documents."

In other words they’re not senior enough to not say something stupid on camera or too stupid to be relied on to keep their mouths shut on camera?

We are proceeding then on the basis that the transcript of this hearing should be capable of being published in full, but if we do get into sensitive matters, we apply the Protocol between the Inquiry and HMG regarding Documents and Other Written and Electronic Information in considering whether and how evidence given to classified documents and/or sensitive matters more widely can be drawn on and explained in public by us, either in our Inquiry report or, where appropriate, at an earlier stage.

So nothing will be redacted unless it is redacted.

JOHN TUCKNOTT: John Tucknott. I was Deputy Head of Mission in Baghdad from November 2007 until July 2009.

JONNY BAXTER: Jonny Baxter. I arrived in Baghdad in August 2007 as the deputy head of the DFID office, and
then took over the headship of it from October 2007 to May 2008.

RICHARD JONES: Richard Jones. I was Consul General in Basra from March 2007 until March 2008.

ROB TINLINE: Rob Tinline. I was Deputy Consul General in Basra from February 2007 to February 2008, and took on leadership of the PRT from April 2007 to February 2008

KATHLEEN REID: Kathleen Reid. I was head of DFID in Basra from August 2007 until late September 2008.

As we can see these are clearly nobodies waiting to be somebodies.  According to Wikipedia.  In the "delegated grades", officers are graded by number from 1 to 7; the grades are grouped into bands lettered A–D (grades 1 and 2 are in Band A; 3 in B; 4 and 5 in C; and 6 and 7 in D). Overseas, A2 grade officers hold the title of Attache, B3-grade officers are Third Secretaries; C4s are Second Secretaries; and C5s and D6s are First Secretaries. D7 officers are usually Deputy Heads of Mission in medium-sized posts or Heads of Mission in small posts. In the British Civil Service grades rank from 7 up to 1, with grade 1 being Permanent Secretary. Grade 7 was formerly known as Principal Officer, grade 6 as Senior Principal Officer. Equally pay band A is the most senior, with B, C and D following. The 1 to 7 grading system in the UK is the reverse to that of the US where higher numbers denote higher seniority.  If Head of Mission and Deputy Head of Mission is senior to First Secretary followed by Second and Third Secretary then these ranks should logically follow the seniority of grades in the Home Civil Service.  You may draw your own organogram I got lost. 
Bored?  So am I. Let's move on... the inquiry asked each how they would assess their jobs etc:

JONNY BAXTER (our man in Bagdad) : Our top line really was to help Iraq unlock its own resources, to make use of its own resources and to effectively turn those into services for the Iraqi people. That involved helping the Iraqis have the sort of leadership capacity to achieve that. So at a sort of high level, that was what we were going in to do.

RICHARD JONES (our man in Basra) : My role as consul was rather more different, I think, from John's up in Baghdad in a sense that we weren't accredited to a sovereign state. We were a subordinate post, and therefore we didn't actually have a country business plan to work to.

ROB TINLINE (head of strategic withdrawls from Basra) : As Deputy Consul General, I got very clear marching instructions that I had essentially six weeks to get us out of the palace and into the air station, and like Richard, we were to work very closely with the military. Measuring success on those was relatively straightforward.  As head of the PRT, I think it was a much less clear picture, not least because the PRT reported to the American Embassy in Baghdad formally, but obviously also to the British operation locally, the British operation in Baghdad and London. So it was a slightly -- well, it was a very complicated reporting chain. On the political side, I would absolutely agree with Richard. It was: how do we get to provincial Iraqi control?


The PRT is the Provincial Reconstruction Team (which does what it says on the tin).

You can find out more about PRT's at the ironically titled


If that seemed like a load of boring waffle wait till you hear

KATHLEEN REID (our head of Basra "oversight"): Quite a lot of similarities actually to both Jonny and Rob, not surprisingly.  Yes, I arrived in the August, and before I went out, kind of instructions from DFID were around oversight of the programmes. A lot of the DFID programmes predated the establishment of the PRT, but fitted very nicely within the kind of main workstreams of the PRT and got rolled quite naturally into those. But we had a lot of consultants that were working directly on DFID project work that sat within the PRT. So that kind of traditional programme management oversight, and again kind of pastoral care of them.

...what Katheleen actually means is translated into English by Rob Tinline who explains the tensions between the DFID and the diplomatic effort and the military mind ...

ROB TINLINE: I would agree. We had that tension in spades. The military instinct being if something is broke, then get on with it and damn well fix it, not spend six months to try and persuade the Iraqis ...

ROB TINLINE - DFID had that tension in spades with military
by:





I'm not sure exactly what PIC stands for.... but I think it's the Iraqi Provisional Government...

ROB TINLINE: I think we got pretty clear -- after the period that you mention, we got pretty clear instructions and the military were getting pretty clear instructions that London didn't want to have to sort out local squabbles, and part of our job was to make it work. I think we all approached it to try to make it work.  Co-locating was an enormous help. You went from  having to do a sort of midnight helicopter ride across town, that more often than not would be cancelled, just to talk to the military, to being able to be at the 8 o'clock, 8.30 meetings every morning, seeing people all the time.  So for me, it was not always an easy relationship, but we saw enough of each other, had enough of a relationship with each other, and there was enough goodwill on both sides to try and work it through. That was particularly true in the senior handful, half a dozen military, who had clearly got that message very strongly from their headquarters and were working most closely with us. I'm not sure how much it transferred all through the military system, but in some ways that didn't matter. It was the guys at the top, and our relationship with them, I think, was very strong, for those reasons.



ROB TINLINE: When we were writing Better Basra -- whatever number it was -- in February 2007, one of the great debates was: is it a British plan or is it a Coalition plan? And obviously with GOC MND South East saying, "Well, if it's going to be mine, it's going to have to be a multinational plan", the Consul General saying, "Well, hang on, we can't clear this through the State Department, it will take forever", what do you do? I think I'm right in saying 90, 95 per cent of the money that was spent in Basra was American money. So if we wrote a British plan with 5 per cent of the money, well ... So how you wrote a plan was actually a ridiculously complicated thing, and we ended up, as you would expect, with us sort of compromise where we'd shown it to the Americans and they sort of said, "Yes, this is more or less right", but it was a British plan.

One thing that does seem to have been a problem was getting about... not just because of the security situation but simply ... for lack of transport altogether ...



...okay they may have had a car.  But they certainly didn't have a plane.

JOHN TUCKNOTT: From a Baghdad perspective, going down to Basra, the RAF was the obvious route for us.  Likewise for you to come up to see us in Baghdad. But actually getting to other places, including to Erbil, we were very much reliant on US assets because there was no other way of doing it.

THE CHAIRMAN: The Embassy got its own aeroplane eventually.

JOHN TUCKNOTT: Yes.

ROB TINLINE: But for about a month, I think.

JOHN TUCKNOTT: No, it's still there.

ROB TINLINE: Is it?

JOHN TUCKNOTT: It eventually got its aircraft a month after I left.

They then go on to discuss how long a tour of duty should be .... apparently it was a bit of a problem that UK military officials kept changing every 6 months while the US army officials and embassy officials didn't...

THE CHAIRMAN: We had a lot of evidence early on, particularly military evidence, that length of tour was a crucial factor in this. There was a typical military turnover at six months. All of you did plus or minus a year in this particular role. I don't suppose there's a magic number, is there, but is more duration than a six-month turnaround important, given the impact of personalities, or not? The counter argument is that the quicker you turn people over, the more times they return to the scene and the more experience they get.


JONNY BAXTER: Are we coming on to this later, were you saying?

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, we are.

ROB TINLINE: I think there's also a sensitivity to what the situation is like. The situation had changed.  There was a sensitivity to -- I don't think we adapted our terms and conditions very much to the changing security situation, and I think maybe we could have been a bit more sensitive to that.

THE CHAIRMAN: We will come back to that.

RICHARD JONES: I think from where we were sitting in Basra, just going back to your earlier question about the transatlantic relationship, it didn't look like a sort of fantastically bureaucratic set up. It was much more fluid than that, but it seemed to work.  Issues would emerge and they would be thrashed out, and we would see through the records the fruit of the discussion between London and Washington as it affected us. And, as John says, similarly the senior level discussions in Baghdad as well.  As far as we were concerned locally, I think there were probably two main channels of communication. One was on the military net, with the Americans wanting to know what we were up to, and obviously the three GOCs that I worked with had a crucial role in sort of explaining to their military superiors in the American system what was going on and convincing them that their strategy was right, and I think that worked pretty really. Re-reading some of the documentation, the number of times I have seen "Petraeus would trust the GOC's judgment on this point" is quite telling. The other relationship that we had was with the US regional embassy office in Basra.


THE CHAIRMAN: That was quite substantial, I think I've recently heard. It wasn't just one man and a dog.

RICHARD JONES: Well, it was two men and lots of security.

ROB TINLINE: There were a lot of men.

RICHARD JONES: They were mostly Peruvians.

ROB TINLINE: And quite a few dogs as well.

KATHLEEN REID: It did all grow over time.

Then everyone goes on about what long hours they worked and also how few of them there were....

THE CHAIRMAN: Anything you want to add on this strategic envelope? Okay.  Well, one thing interests me, which is the up/down cycle and the timing, as well as the influence. Did you find in your dealings up and down the chain, if you like, Basra to Baghdad to London, that messages could go up and come back down, with any directional help or whatever, fast enough? In other words, is there a really sort of timely and reactive part of the machine in London which is capable of hearing something, assessing it and giving something back on it, or not?

JONNY BAXTER: I think in my experience there was, but I know that I had a boss who worked seven days a week like we did. That was part of the reality of it.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

JONNY BAXTER: Yes, I think DFID had developed quite a well oiled machine in London to manage the whole sort of process side of things, the whole responding to queries or passing down queries.

THE CHAIRMAN: That's part of normal life for DFID, isn't it, with the great body of your staff out in the field?

JONNY BAXTER: Well, in the instance of Iraq it was reversed. We had the great body of our staff in London and small numbers of people in country, and interestingly, it's reversed now in Afghanistan for other reasons.  The other normal part of DFID life is that you have the devolution of authority to the country, which we didn't have in this context. So we did have to go back for more instruction than we would normally have done, which quite often created the space.

Next Rob Tinline waxes Lyrical about how helpful the American Embassy "from a PRT perspective".... and then Kathleen Reid talks about the post PIC era... and how there was a big change was really around the Charge of the Knights.... and what was down to the PIC ...and what was just the result of the Charge of the Knights.

ROB TINLINE: I wasn't there for Charge of the Knights, but looking at it from the outside, my sense was that what Charge of the Knights changed was what you could legitimately expect to achieve, and so let's do more.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.

ROB TINLINE: And that -- so that it wasn't PIC. It was the capability to achieve things had changed drastically.

RICHARD JONES: There was one respect in which PIC, I think, was relevant, and that was that there had been a debate in advance of PIC as to how we could be sure that the whole situation in Basra remained stable. The economy was identified as the crucial thing, and we had many hours of amusement discussing that in Basra with our military colleagues, the degree to which we could help.  So in a way the agenda that the Prime Minister set in October was the sort of flanking measure, if you like, for PIC. It was no coincidence that -- well, it seems to me, with the benefit of hindsight, there was no coincidence that the third Basra development forum took place about four days before the PIC ceremony. So in that sense of coincidence there was a relationship, but as Rob says, we had PIC-ed economically years before.



They then move onto a discussion of international agencies such as the World Bank.  It seems the trouble the World Bank had with Iraq was not so much money as some staffing issues.  Getting anyone prepared to be killed is always difficult.


World Banker Sergio De Mello's coffin (above)

JONNY BAXTER: The international bodies were essential -- this was a major part of our strategy, to get the international bodies to do the kind of tasks that they would do anywhere else in the world.

THE CHAIRMAN: And they have forgotten about the awfulness of the invasion and the horrible death of Sergio De Mello?

JONNY BAXTER: No, they definitely haven't, and for very understandable reasons, both at an institutional and at a personal level.

THE CHAIRMAN: I was quoting, by the way, about UN attitudes.

JONNY BAXTER: From our perspective, it was essential that we had as good and a strong UN, and that was more likely to happen when Staffan de Mistura came in as a very strong SRSG.  The World Bank, I think, was a bigger problem for us or a bigger worry for us. There were a lot of political reasons for why World Bank, I think, found it difficult, and again, one can understand that. One can understand the context of it, but it created problems, and DFID spent quite a lot of time trying to get the World Bank properly engaged in Iraq. We gave the World Bank people pod space, living space in our embassy, and that was under the DFID headcount. We were trying to encourage them to have, for example, an infrastructure person there, but it was very difficult to get that sort of engagement.

JOHN TUCKNOTT: I would agree with Jonny. I think obviously it was very important. Certainly we tried to -- we encouraged and we supported and we helped the UN to -- "re-establish" is the wrong word, but to move on from the tragedy of Sergio De Mello. Stefan de Mistura came in and gripped the UN operationally in Iraq and basically turned it round, you know, enthused staff, inspired them, and we saw real uptake in UN understanding of the situation and what they were able and what they were capable of doing.

JONNY BAXTER: My understanding is, having talked to individuals, it was a combination of the two. The people, for example, who we had there as World Bank representatives, World Bank people, were not core World Bank staff. They had been brought in on contract to do this job. There were not people in the bank system, employees, who would do this.

THE CHAIRMAN: Which meant their lines of communication back into the World Bank headquarters would be weak.

JONNY BAXTER: In part. They were very strong --

JOHN TUCKNOTT: And they were doing other jobs.

JONNY BAXTER: Yes.



We then move onto the PRT in Basra which seems to have spent such a lot of time waiting around at the Airport Terminal unable to go out anywhere that it began to resemble a Tom Hanks film...



There then follows a lot of waffle that can be summarised to

THE CHAIRMAN: How did you actually travel? In a Warrior?

KATHLEEN REID: No, it was a helicopter night-time move from the COB into the palace. There were military around there. They moved us around the palace in military vehicles. We had a meeting with him and we flew back. I was down there for maybe an hour.

We then get onto a discussion of how hard it is to do things when you’re dead.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Now, in that situation, where you can't get out, apart from what it does to your sanity, what does it do to your ability to do the job? Where is the proportionality between staying alive and getting the job done? Can you express that in percentage terms? We are talking about delivery challenges. How much --

ROB TINLINE: Hard to do the job if you're dead.




There follows a long discussion of how the staff did actually meet up with people which seemed to involve using a lot of mobile phones or something and sometimes going to Dubai… but really I lost the plot of this bit as it’s quite dull.  However, this discussion between Sir Roderic Lyne and Jonny Baxter gets to the heart of the issue of trying not to get a cap in one’s bottom.


Interestingly different departments had different rules about the level of risk that was acceptable to their workers

JOHN TUCKNOTT: We worked within that. It was a different thing. There were certain areas which I could allow FCO personnel or FCO consultants to go to which DFID were not happy about going to, if I can put  it that way, MOI being the particular case in question.

JONNY BAXTER: And we had had a specific threat on a specific DFID consultancy group related to that.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Not just that DFID are actually more useful and valuable than FCO, and you don't want to lose as many of them because they know something; no?

JONNY BAXTER: John can comment on that.

JOHN TUCKNOTT: I don't think -- I mean, it's part of the thing Jonny said. Obviously, as PSO, I took the security of the staff as paramount in my mind as it was in Christopher Prentice's………. Through a programme of attrition, I would call it, on the security manager -- it started happening after Jonny's time probably -- we managed --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You sent the security manager out first?

JOHN TUCKNOTT: No. We managed -- we did a lot more, I think, after Jonny left than we were doing before, while Jonny was there. Red Zone moves became an everyday occurrence. Hardly a week went by when I didn't go out into the Red Zone two or three times.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: We are talking what period now?

JOHN TUCKNOTT: I would say from after the Charge of the Knights until I left, it gradually eased off. Kathleen, you were there for some of that period of time.

KATHLEEN REID: I did five months in Baghdad, and we did probably three times more Red Zone moves in that time than --

JOHN TUCKNOTT: So we were able to do more.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: This is a reflection of the surge?


JOHN TUCKNOTT: It was a reflection of our understanding of what was happening on the ground, through our own people working on the ground, an understanding of the facts. It was driven by the change of emphasis that was in train and was coming about. We were moving away from the military to a more civilian effort. We realised we had to get out more.  We had to go and see people in ministries we had never been to.  When I first arrived, we used to try and pull people into the Residence and see people there, or we would go to the Al Rasheed Hotel on the edge of the Green Zone .....


...and see people there, but actually going to see people, saying we are actually going to come out to your office happened much less often. We were never stupid about it. We never did same route, same thing, and there were still areas where we had problems. We didn't go up to Sadr City, ....


....much to my regret. I think it would be quite interesting to go to Sadr City, but we didn't go to Sadr City.  We were always very careful about it, but gradually over time we were able to lighten the restrictions we had on staff, and where they were able to move to and what they were able to do.  It's very easy to ramp up security. What we found difficult was to persuade London to start ramping it down as the security situation, as we saw it on the ground and our experts saw it on the ground, improved.

JONNY BAXTER: But what had particularly ramped up security for us at the time when I started was the Ministry of Finance kidnapping. We were all very aware that there were a number of people being held at that time, and the other factor of that is a lot of the Embassy's effort was then directed at that. So the knock-on implications are not just on the horrible things for those people. It's then about actually you now have to allocate some of your embassy resource, which could have been doing political interaction or something else, to that issue.

ROB TINLINE: Just on the balance of risk, I don't think at any point in my time in Basra we were anywhere near going out to town. I think the risk calculation was so skewed.

They then move onto an argument between central Iraqi government and Basra over the authority of the governor which I didn’t quite understand so I’ll leave it in mandarin:

RICHARD JONES: For the majority of the time, yes.  There was a period where it looked as though the Iraqi Prime Minister -- well, the Prime Minister basically had issued an order to all government officials saying that he was not to be treated as governor, and that coincided with a period where the provincial council was trying to pretend that he didn't exist as governor, and therefore it was not appropriate to have meetings with him. But that period sort of passed with the ruling that came from the administrative court in -- I think it was issued on 30 September, and thereafter we were back in harness with him.

Richard Jones later explains that

RICHARD JONES: Yes. Over time I think we all got to understand Wa'ali and Fadhila a bit better, perhaps, than we had done to begin with. I think throughout the period there was a sense that it was not our job to pick winners. We had to deal with the politics as they were sort of served up to us.

There’s then a discussion about budgets in which generally everyone agrees that they had enough money and when they didn’t the Americas provided some.  


One problem the Inquiry could identify is that apparently no one spoke Arabic


ROB TINLINE: Just thinking about it, the one skill that I might highlight is Arabic. We were very, very light on Arabic.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: That was my next question.

ROB TINLINE: My sense -- and I could be being unfair -- is that everybody who is an Arabist in the Foreign Office who wanted to do Iraq had been through Iraq and wasn't going back, thank you very much, with the noble exception of Dominic Asquith.  So we were really light on Arabic skills, and that was probably true of the consultants as well. Any sort of regional consultant who wanted to do Iraq had had four years to do it by then. So we struggled on Arabic.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: How many of you spoke Arabic? Two?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Were you able to learn at all while you were there? Did you pick any up?

ROB TINLINE: The level of my interaction with -- no. No. Pretty much every interaction was a business interaction that we had a limited time to do, and we had to do it. There wasn't that scope.

…but fortunately it doesn’t seem to have been too much a problem due to no one being able to go anywhere in the first place.


JONNY BAXTER: I've done it again recently and it hasn't changed.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: You are still running around Hampshire with a compass and a map.


As to PTS …

RICHARD JONES: We had medics embedded with us in the FCO compound who sort of had a very gentle watching brief to check that we weren't going off the rails. And, as Rob said, I knew that there would be help available, and indeed, I think we had a discussion as to whether post Basra counseling should be made compulsory, and we decided it shouldn't. We decided it should just be there for people to use if they wanted to.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: It's available?

RICHARD JONES: It was available.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Post Basra?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Were you aware of anybody taking it up?

RICHARD JONES: No, I'm not actually.

ROB TINLINE: You would have to ask --

RICHARD JONES: There's no particular reason why we would know, I suppose.

John Tucknott (now UK Amassador to Napal and the only one of the 4 I could find a picture of) cheers us all up by boasting about his experience in the Lebanese Civil War with no duty of care whatsoever.


JOHN TUCKNOTT: There again, I've got previous on this. I did the last two years of the Lebanese Civil War with no duty of care whatsoever. So as soon as I put my hand up to be DHM in Baghdad, they said thank you very much.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Were there differences between FCO and DFID in the approaches to duty of care? Did that make a difference on the ground?

ROB TINLINE: I wasn't aware of anything particularly.  As I say, there were consultants, core civil servants and then obviously a military-civilian division. But I don't think there was any ...

JOHN TUCKNOTT: DFID, FCO there was no difference. No light between us.

ROB TINLINE: MOD civil servants were --

JOHN TUCKNOTT: They were slightly different for those who weren't actually in the Embassy. The MOD civil servants who were in the Embassy were not any different to any other Government department. But when they were embedded with the military, like the Political Adviser to SBMR-I, they were different.

There’s some interesting comments on staff selection…

JOHN TUCKNOTT: I think Rob makes a very important point. Certainly when I became DHM, I made the point of saying to people, when they were interviewing or considering people for posts, they had to convince the interviewers that they were coming for the right reason. And the right reason was because they believed that we were doing a job that we needed to be doing, that it was important to do it, and they wanted to do that job. The right reason was not money. Certainly not money. They had to be there for the right reason. The questioning, certainly during interviews and the application, had to try and draw out what their reason was. That was very important to me.

ROB TINLINE: For me, the job was absolutely fascinating. It was a step up from running a team of four in London to running basically a PRT of 30 and being deputy in a mission of 100.  My wife was currently deputy in Jerusalem. So it actually meant with the holidays I got to see more of her than I would in London. It paid more than it does in London. I thought it would be a good thing for my career. It was a fascinating, politically high profile thing to do. There are all sorts of reasons, but put them all together -- and I didn't really think I was going to die -- put them all together, and I think most people would be a mix of those things.  You don't want it to all be about the money, but I think we would be naive to suggest that wasn't one of half a dozen, ten issues that said, "Actually this is a good thing for me and my career".

The no shit Sherlock award goes to…

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I think one conclusion from this is that keeping civil servants on very low pay in London is good for getting recruitment to difficult places overseas.

There’s some talk about the relationship with London

JOHN TUCKNOTT: Yes, I think we played our role, and a proper role in the development of the overall strategy in Iraq during the time I was there. The messages we were sending back were listened to. Some areas of Whitehall didn't always necessarily understand Iraqi politics and the delays and what Maliki was thinking and Maliki changing his mind and how his advisers got at him, et cetera, et cetera. So we would explain it again, and the message would finally get through. I was quite happy with the relationship that we had and our impact on the strategy.

After a lot of waffle everyone decides that, as young Mr Grace would have said, they’ve all done very well.

JONNY BAXTER: It is quite interesting that people focus on the lessons to learn to do it better.  Actually there are some positive lessons to learn out of the Baghdad experience. I think DFID being in the Chancery in this context worked really well. Now, that may be a slightly heinous thing to say in some circumstances, but that concept of really the Government departments pulling together, it did work better than in most places.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thanks. We are, by the way, very conscious as an inquiry that it is not a story of mistake, failure, deficiency by any means at all.

The Inquiry also interviewed in separate private session

LINDY CAMERON (our woman in Baghdad and later Basra): I was the deputy head of Baghdad from January 2004 until November 2004, and I took over as the head of DFID Baghdad and the head of Iraq, because we merged in terms of Baghdad and Basra teams from that period until August 2005. I then did six months in London as the Senior Programme Manager for Iraq from September 2005 to March 2006.

SIMON COLLIS (our Consul in Basra): I was Consul General in Basra from the beginning of July 2004 -- so at the end of CPA -- until the end of February/early March 2005.

JAMES TANSLEY (our later Consul in Basra): I'm James Tansley, I was Consul General in Basra from the end of September 2005 until April 2006.

TIM FOY : Two stints for me. Head of DFID Iraq, straight after Lindy from August 2005 through to August 2006, and then a second stint immediately after Mark Etherington, in the spirit of the rolling maul, in the Basra PRT.

We have actually covered their evidence briefly before briefly in our original article as confusingly this evidence is also listed in the public evidence list.  Anyway here's the Tim Foy animation again for completeness:







much of their evidence tells the same kind of stories as in the JOHN TUCKNOTT, JONNY BAXTER, RICHARD JONES, ROB TINLINE and KATHLEEN REID evidence session.  However, for even more completeness here's a lecture on community policing with SIMON COLLIS



and another on how poor communication was even between Iraqis and how little control Saddam had actually had over the south of the country...


and here's Tim Foy on the difference between planning and doing ... mainly he's saying it was all a bit slow...



...later he gives up mincing his words even that much

TIM FOY: Yes. There was a lot more tension than people would publicly utter, and what always amazed me --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: In that case it was really bad?

TIM FOY: It was bad, to be perfectly honest. Unfortunately it replicated itself in Afghanistan, which I know we are not talking about, but some of the planning carried through.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Well, we want to make some comparisons on that, actually.

TIM FOY: And I think it comes from initial beliefs that DFID wasn't interested in Iraq and was dragged kicking and
screaming into doing some stuff in Iraq, and then trying to do the minimum, and it was precious in terms of its new development goals, its international development act, all of which precluded it from doing things. But I think at the time I was thinking this as well, so it's not an after hours thought, if you like, or a 2010 thought.  For me, many of the problems stemmed from a couple of issues. The first is that -- I'll be careful how I say it -- additional resourcing and reorganisation and restructuring of the way in which civil effect was organised could not make up for poor strategic decision, could not make up for the problems which existed in Iraq, which was that Iraq in 2003 was a far more broken country than we had thought it was. It wasn't simply somewhere that was amenable to reconstruction. It was somewhere which had hadn its political heart, if you like, destroyed through 30-odd years of Ba'athism and the emergence, by taking the lid off in 2003, of a nascent civil war. Administratively, it had largely ceased to exist. The interlocutors that Lindy and myself worked with were either under the age of 25 and educated overseas or over the age of 60 and invariably educated in Manchester. There wasn't a great deal in between.


...and finally ....JAMES TANSLEY is scathing about the renumeration package...


... the only person to not say anything naughty seems to be


LINDY CAMERON: Can I just add, I think, in a sense, this shouldn't have been a huge surprise. In any development context we have ever worked in, security is the prime function of the state in order for it to have legitimacy, but the rule of law sector is the most difficult to achieve an effective and competent joined-up process, where our policemen are able to find the right individuals and provide security at local level and get people through an effective justice system that provides what people perceive to be a fair result. So it was always going to be one of the most challenging sectors, I think.

Forward to...

Kurdistan Goes Pear Shaped With Emma Sky - Emma Sky was sent to the US controlled region of Kirkuk in Kurdistan by the USA who secured her services from the British Council.  She maintains she was acting as effectively as a private citizen (not an employee of the British Government) at the time which is why she has a page entirely to herself.
The JIC goes Pear Shaped in Iraq - Sir John Scarlett and Julian Miller (heads of the JIC during the run up to the invasion) and Sir William Erhman and Tim Dowse (heads of of the JIC after the invasion of Iraq in 2003) discuss the actual evidence or lack of it for the claims within the two dossiers and illuminate us as the JIC intelligence QC processes in what is widely regarded as one of the most boring pages on the internet.
The DIS goes Pear Shaped in Iraq - Martin Howard of the Defense Intelligence Service gives his views on how well it all went
GCHQ goes Pear Shaped - Sir David Pepper tells us what went on at GCHQ after the war and no one tells us what went on at GCHQ in the run-up to the war
Major General Michael Laurie goes Pear Shaped in Iraq




Photo Credits.
Most photos of British, American of Iraqi politicians by US Army
Although their foreign policy is arguably aggressive
one cant fault their photography
Dominic Asquith stolen from Bath University
Christopher Prentice from Flickr
Orienteering man by Michal Voráček