Emma Sky

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 in 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…?
Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped in Iraq Covers the reconstruction effort after the invasion and the private evidence of Edward Chaplin CMG OBE, The Hon Dominic Asquith CMG and Christopher Prentice CMG, HM Ambassadors to Iraq (2004 – 2009 collectively) and DFID and FCO functionaries JOHN TUCKNOTT, JONNY BAXTER, RICHARD JONES, ROB TINLINE, KATHLEEN REID, LINDY CAMERON, SIMON COLLIS, JAMES TANSLEY and TIM FOY

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 before moving on to the private evidence sessions.  We have attempted (like the real inquiry) to group individuals together (for example all the DFID and FCO officials on one page and all the MI6 evidence on another) in order to try and build up more of a cohesive picture of events.  However, there's one person who's evidence doesn't fit into this pattern and that is the mysterious Professor Emma Sky. 

As usual we will be using the Mansfield Smith-Cumming layout method of trying to make transcripts slightly more digestible 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

One of the problems in writing about the transcripts of the participants in the Iraq Inquiry is finding photographs of them.  Another is finding out about their actual background and job.  While Emma Sky is a mysterious case it is not difficult to find any photographs of her due to her penchant for extreme self publicity but at the same time it is very difficult to understand exactly what she did and even the inquiry seem slightly incredulous at her own explanations of her role. 

Uniquely on the Private Evidence page of the Chilcot Inquiry website Professor Sky is the one person without any job description (although interestingly she has an MBE).  Within the text of the private transcript between herself and the Inquiry team her roles are described by Sir John Chilcot in his preamble as follows

"We will be taking evidence from you today in your roles as Governorate Coordinator for Kirkuk, and then Governance Advisor to CPA North from 2003-4, and your subsequent role as an advisor to the US military, both General Odierno and General Petraeus, between 2007 and 10.  In 2007-10 you were working as an advisor to the US military.  The Inquiry's Terms of Reference are to examine the UK's involvement in Iraq. So we will therefore focus our questions on your insights in relation to the UK."

The citidel of Kirkuk

So clearly Professor Sky was some kind of liaison between the US army and Kurdistan and the UK government.  What is confusing is why a British subject should have been working so closely and directly for the US Government…. Not to mention what she is doing giving evidence to the Inquiry if she is working for the US government …given the US government’s lack of enthusiasm for the Inquiry. 

Amazingly there seems to have been no direct communication channel between Professor Sky and London.  Indeed when pushed on the subject Professor Sky actually denies any official link to the UK government at all and claims to "just be a private citizen".

She pretty much seems to have been left in the oil rich and politically disputed region of Kirkuk ...

....to (as she would say) "just get on with it"?!?

So who is she?

Well according to her biography as a resident fellow of the University of Harvard ...As an undergraduate at Oxford, Professor Sky was greatly influenced by two global events: the first Intifada and the Gulf War. Sky worked hard to find ways to contribute to bringing about peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Sky actively protested against the 1991 Gulf War.  And after graduation, Professor Sky traveled alone in Africa and the Middle East, worked on refugee issues, and did post-graduate studies, before moving out to live and work in Jerusalem. Sky worked in Palestinian organizations before moving to the British Council to manage projects to help build up the institutions of the Palestinian Authority and to promote better relations between Palestinians and Israelis. Sky was at the peace demonstration in Tel Aviv on 4 November 1995 where Rabin was assassinated.

Sky left Jerusalem in 2001 after the outbreak of the second intifada, returning to UK to work on international governance, justice and security advisor for the British Council. As such, Sky did consultancy work in Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, and United Arab Emirates.

According to her biography as a “Visiting Professor at the War Studies Department, King’s College London, and a Fellow at Oxford, Changing Nature of War Programme” Professor Sky has “over a decade of experience working in Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, and United Arab Emirates. She provided technical assistance on poverty elimination, human rights, justice public administration reform, security sector reform, and conflict resolution. Emma has substantial experience with the British Council in managing international development projects on behalf of the UK Department for International Development, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the World Bank, and the European Commission.”

Or to put it another way if Emma rolls up in your country start worrying. 

Emma's formal education was at Oxford (UK), Alexandria (Egypt), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) and Liverpool (UK). Emma has traveled widely in Africa, Middle East, South Asia, and Europe. She speaks Arabic, Hebrew and French. Emma has published numerous articles including in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Survival, US Institute of Peace, and the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (we noticed).

In short Professor Emma Sky has more passport stamps than Professor Indiana Jones and a similar lack of trouble in paying the cost of International travel or finding trouble….

Working as she does (usually though not always) for the British Council – a superficially independent branch of the FCO (granted a royal charter by King George VI in 1940) the British Council was inspired by Sir Reginald (Rex) Leeper's recognition of the importance of "cultural propaganda" in promoting British interests.  Which may explain why
Professor Sky writes so many long boring articles on what a great place Iraqi Kurdistan is to take a holiday.

EMMA SKY on joining the CPA from British Council

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: And geographically this was the province centered on Kirkuk?

MS EMMA SKY: This was the Kirkuk province, yes. Some people call it Ta'min, but that means "nationalisation". So it quickly turned its name back to Kirkuk.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So you were stationed in Kirkuk itself?


BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Did you travel to other areas in the north?

MS EMMA SKY: I travelled all the way round the province. I travelled at times to Irbil, to Sulaymaniyah, to Mosul and to Diyala and Salahdin. We were always sharing ideas and experiences.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What was the security situation when you arrived in Kirkuk? What sort -- in the north?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: And did you travel to other parts of Iraq or were you mainly concentrated in --

MS EMMA SKY: Oh, I travelled to Baghdad. I didn't really go south of Baghdad. So everything north of Baghdad I travelled to.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: How did that compare to what it was like in Kirkuk, just to get a picture? Did it feel very different in Baghdad compared to what you find in Kirkuk?

MS EMMA SKY: Baghdad seems different because I suppose the coalition seemed much more cut off from the people. In Kirkuk I spent all day, every day with Kirkukis. So I didn't have a coalition world and then occasionally sort of go and see Kirkukis. I spent most of my days, hours upon hours, with Kirkukis.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Was it because it was relatively more peaceful than what it was in Baghdad or was Baghdad kind of cocooned in a green zone?

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, at the beginning when I first arrived in Baghdad, which was in June 2003, people could go out and people were going out, but it's how people responded to violence. When the violence got worse, then the barriers went up more and more and more. I mean, in Kirkuk I lived downtown at the beginning, but my house was destroyed and so I had to move on to an army base, but I would go out every single day.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Would you say that because the north had been relatively autonomous in the 1990s, had that had impact in the atmosphere you found in the north?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, Kirkuk wasn't part of that autonomous region.  So Kirkuk had always been that city that had been contested right from -- you know, from the Ottoman period. So the Kurds had always been trying to make Kirkuk part of their region. So since it had not been part of an autonomous region, immediately the war
took place the Kurds sought to extend to include Kirkuk in their autonomous region.

For those of you not up on Iraqi history.  http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article2492.html

"But Ankara* also has its eyes on a bigger prize, the oil fields of Kirkuk that contain 40% of Iraq's proven oil reserves. Ankara still holds its claim to Kirkuk, which was taken from Turkey as a result of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. Turkish nationalists still regard it as historically part of Turkey. Ankara also asserts guardianship over the Turkmen ethnic minority in northern Iraq."

*Kirkuk is the capital of what was Ankara

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: As part of that there had been the Arabisation programme under Saddam. So were the tensions in Kirkuk actually enhanced by the existence of the autonomous region to the northand then the recent history with the movement of Arabs into Kirkuk?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Can I just move on to the role of the CPA? Were you and your colleagues involved in the development of the CPA strategy or did you have a strategy?


BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I could see your smile.

MS EMMA SKY: Trick question. Down in Baghdad obviously people did have strategies. It might have not been clear to others. In Kirkuk I developed with the military a strategy for Kirkuk and was engaging with CPA Baghdad on that strategy.  In terms of an overall bigger strategy for the country I recall I think it was September 2003 going down to Baghdad. Ambassador Bremer ....

...used to bring the commanders and governorate coordinators down monthly for meetings.  So I recall I think it was September 2003 turning up and there was a CPA strategy that was, "This is what we are going to do", but none of us had known about it before, weren't involved in the development of it.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So there wasn't a communication as such.  Did you feel you were fairly autonomous in the way you wanted to develop your strategy responding to the needs? Is that what you felt?

MS EMMA SKY: Certainly the first few months definitely. I mean, I was able to look at Kirkuk, speak to all the different groups there, go out broadly, very broad consultation to understand their sense of history, their sense of grievance, their aspirations, and look at all these different dynamics, understand what had happened immediately following the fall of the regime and develop a strategy to buy Kirkuk the time and the space so that the people there could work out how to live in the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural province. So that is what my focus was on. Some of the things at the national level started to go a bit at odds with this, because Kirkuk needed more time.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So were you getting any directions from Baghdad or the UK or were you left to your own devices?

MS EMMA SKY: There were I suppose broad outlines, but no one said to me, "Oh, you know, you must go there and you must consult with all these people and work out how to bring about stability". 
I mean, there was no guidance of that kind.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What were the broad guidelines? What sort of guidelines were you given?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, there was money to be spent, so you'd be told, you know, "There's money to be spent on projects". We reported regularly. I mean, I reported all my discussions back to CPA, but I think, you know, if you were at the centre, they were so full of the issues that they had got there, they were struggling with their own issues at the centre. So everybody in a province felt that their province was the most important place and, "Don't you know there are all these issues going on and you must respond?" The CPA wasn't, you know, a developed organisation. It had just come together ad hoc. So, you know, most of my reporting I did from Kirkuk was on my Hotmail account. There weren't the systems -- there wasn't -- you know, we were making it up on the hoof as we went.

An incredulous Sir Roderic Lyne reiterates

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Chairman, I just wonder if I can come back to the beginning of this conversation just to make sure I've really understood it.  When you went out there, you say you had no written briefing, no terms of reference, no instructions, and did you not have any oral briefing from anybody other than to turn up at Brize Norton and fly out to Basra?


SIR RODERIC LYNE: Nothing at all?

MS EMMA SKY: No, not before I left the UK. I don't recall any at all except for one phone call. When I got to Basra, obviously there was no one there with a sign for the hotel. So I went on to Baghdad. I made my way to the palace and in the palace there was the British team there. I met with John Sawers [now head of MI6] and I spent a week there going round the palace seeing how things work, you know, getting as much briefing as I could. They said

So then I went to Mosul. They said,

I went to Irbil. They said,

So I went to Kirkuk.
 I didn't know I was going to Kirkuk when I left the UK.

If this sounds an implausible story to you then you wont have been shocked to learn that it did to the inquiry too who ask again....

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So when you left the UK, you didn't know where you were going. You presumably didn't even know what kind of clothes to put in your suitcase?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, no. I was only going for three months.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You were only going for three months.

MS EMMA SKY: You know, I have now been there over a period of seven years, but I only went for three months.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Having arrived at your post when you found it in the north, who were you answerable to? Who was your line manager? Was somebody there giving you some guidance or instructions?

MS EMMA SKY: In Kirkuk?


MS EMMA SKY: I was the senior civilian in Kirkuk. So the person I answered to was Ambassador Bremer.

Each of the Governorate Coordinators answered to the Ambassador. That doesn't mean to say there weren't other lines. There was obviously a line to CPA North. There was very close coordination with the military.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did it in this process strike you as slightly surprising that as a Crown Servant certainly at this point you found yourself in a conflict zone with so little preparation or instruction? Did that strike you as a professional way of going about things? I don't mean you; I mean those who sent you there.

MS EMMA SKY: There's nothing to compare this experience with, and I think I didn't sit there thinking, "Oh, isn't this
terrible? I haven't got instructions". I wasn't thinking that way at all. I mean, for me it was almost, you know, you choose. You can decide what you can do. There was no restrictions. It was very -- the ability to be very entrepreneurial was there.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: What size staff did you have and who were they?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, the staff never really arrived. There was always talk of, you know, staff that you were going to get. So the staff were very, very limited. There were a couple, I mean, literally a handful, but ...

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Baroness Prashar I think mentioned briefly money. Could you talk more about that? Did you just have bags of money?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I was about to come to the question of resources.

"Iraq’s missing billions" .... (mostly unspent money from the Oil for Food program handed to the US government to dispense to the people of Iraq) have been the subject of much discussion including this famous dispatches documentary...


...and the similar Panorama documentary both of whom featured star interviewee Alan Grayson

memorable for his prosecution of firm "Custer Battles" for making fraudulent statements and submitting fraudulent invoices on two contracts the company had with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to the tune of $13 million.  Rather than go over this ground that's been gone over better by other people before I'll quote Henry Waxman, Chairman of the United States House of Representatives committee on oversight and government.

Emma then goes into a load of waffle which can be cut down to she actually had a staff of 100 or so people.  Mainly Iraqi Kurds (one presumes) and US officials.  Although if you listen carefully basically we only have Emma’s word that the governing structure they made up as they went along actually work and indeed that anyone listened to her at all.

ES Video 4

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So, in other words, you were working with what you had and it was your initiative to set up that team?



MS EMMA SKY: And it worked extremely, extremely well, because, I mean, the brigade commander was quite happy to give me some of his guys. He had 3000 of them. So he was happy to assign his guys under me, because we were completely, completely joined up.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What about financial resources? Where were they coming from? Did you feel you had enough?

MS EMMA SKY: It would come in fits and spurts.


MS EMMA SKY: And so we --

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: And come from where?

MS EMMA SKY: There was CPA funding. There was Commanders' -- you know, a thing called CERP, Commanders' Emergency Response Programme. There was US AID funding. There was a whole tranche of funding which we all put through a -- under this team we built up we had a project management cell. So we could see how much money was coming in, worked with the Iraqis to identify what the priorities were, could monitor where it was going to and make sure there was a balance between the different ethnicities and regions on who got the funding, because otherwise the funds themselves could become the source of conflict If some were getting, and some weren't getting. So we tried to do it in that way.

If you're thinking that prioritising who to give the money to is not a simple question ...then you would be right as to quote Peter Van Buren author of "We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People", a book about his work for the Department of State as the leader of two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in rural Iraq, 2009-2010.......

The reconstruction of Iraq was the largest nation- building program in history, dwarfing in cost, size, and complexity even those undertaken after World War II to rebuild Germany and Japan.

"At a cost to the US taxpayer of over $63 billion and counting, the plan was lavishly funded, yet, as government inspectors found, the efforts were characterized from the beginning by pervasive waste and ineffciency, mistaken judgments, flawed policies, and structural weaknesses.

Of those thousands of acts of waste and hundreds of mistaken judgments, some portion was made by me and the two reconstruction teams I led in Iraq, along with my goodwilled but overwhelmed and unprepared colleagues in the State Department, the military, and dozens of other US government agencies. We were the ones who famously helped paste together feathers year after year, hoping for a duck. The scholarly history someone will one daywrite about Iraq and reconstruction will need the raw material."

"Charged with rebuilding Iraq, would you spend taxpayer money on a sports mural in Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhood to promote reconciliation through art? How about an isolated milk factory that cannot get its milk to market? Or a pastry class training women to open cafés on bombed-out streets without water or electricity?
 According to Peter Van Buren, we bought all these projects and more in the most expensive hearts-and-minds campaign since the Marshall Plan. "

Mr Van Buren also purports that while a lot of soldiers did see action in Iraq
during the day to day occupation many of the troops stationed in Iraq far from combating insurgents
seldom left their bases as all... engaging any insurgents very seldom indeed

As you can probably imagine the US government were none too pleased with Mr Van Buren's candor.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Could I ask a supplementary to what the Baroness was asking? You were able to set up this model, this structure. How reliant was it on the benign accident of personal relationships in Kirkuk between military, civilian, NGOs, others, because it doesn't seem to be something we've heard about elsewhere?

MS EMMA SKY: It was totally reliant on that. I mean, it was based on -- I'd never worked with the military before and was very almost anti-military, but when I arrived there, they were the guys with the power, with the resources, with the bureaucracy, and I could spend all my time watching what they do and reporting back on all the mistakes they are making, or I could look at how to work with them and working in a better way.  So it became -- I mean, I got on very, very well with the brigade commander. We reached this common understanding of what skills they had to offer, what skills I had to offer, what skills these other people had to offer and, "Let's do the best match".  So in most places in the country you saw this antagonistic relationship between the two. With us when we had a military general turning up, I would act as the political advisor to the Colonel. When it was Ambassador Bremer turning up...

...., all the chairs changed. I was in the seat and the military was my military advisor and they all -- we switched like that all the time. So all the reporting was one report. So we didn't have a separate report from the military or a separate report from the,civilians. It was just one report. It is possible to do, but nothing is set up in training or in organisation to do it. So this was really based on personality.

After some prompting from Baroness Usha ....Professor Sky continues....

MS EMMA SKY: Most of my time, when I look back, was spent managing the politics of Kirkuk, because it was the politics that was driving insecurity. It was the politics that was driving the tensions.  So I used to meet with again a wide range of stakeholders, helping them understand themselves the experiences they were going through and to interpret what was happening to them; then worked to create forums to bring people of different backgrounds together. So when I was speaking to them separately, I could help them understand themselves and what others thought of them, and then to create forums where they could come together and discuss the hard issues that Kirkuk would be facing in the future.  So that took a huge amount of time, because all around the province people had issues. There'd be villages where there was a land dispute going on. So going to there, bringing lawyers with me, because in my big team I also had lawyers who could help mediate the land disputes. So doing land dispute issues.
We had issues with the farmers. There had been a sulphur fire in Mosul and the farmers were claiming the largest compensation package of all time for the damage done to crops, and so a lot of the agricultural issues had to be managed and dealt with, because if you weren't dealing with the political issues, it would respond through violence --


Professor Sky is referring to the Al-Mishraq fire.  Al-Mishraq is a state run sulfur plant near Mosul, Iraq. In June 2003, it was the site of the largest human-made release of sulfur dioxide ever recorded when a fire (thought to have been deliberately started) gained control and burned for almost a month.  According to wikipedia at its height, the fire was putting 21,000 tonnes of sulfur dioxide a day into the atmosphere. The pollution at Mosul city which is about 45 km from Mishraq reached a "catastrophic level". For over 48 hours the white smoke from sulfur dioxide could be seen in the air. Many people were taken into hospitals and most vegetation was killed. On the plus side the Al-Mishraq fire made number 9 in "Ask Men" magazine's top ten of all time most idiotic man made disasters.  It also made the top ten worst man made disasters in "Womansday" magazine  although being a magazine for birds "Womansday" doesn't try to rank it's disasters down to individual placings.

MS EMMA SKY: -- with lots of demonstrations, so people demonstrating Kirkuk should become part of Kurdistan or Kirkuk should stay with, and not being able to express themselves for decades, people were really making up for it in a very short period of time. So the reconstruction piece, if you like, was a piece that I oversaw, but I delegated the actual nuts and bolts of managing the money down.  What I did set up was a development commission, Kirkuk Development Commission, which was co-chaired by the Governor and myself, and we had a sort of a very representative group who were on that committee, all Iraqis from all different parts of the province, all groups represented, that would agree what were the priorities for the province, where did aid need to go, what was required.  So we would agree it and then we would instruct the project management team to implement it, but I wasn't involved in the actual nuts and bolts. You know, we would track it, we would monitor it, but most of my time was spent on the politics, getting people together, inclusivity. We had councils for different tribes. They wanted to have some representation of some form. So lots of different bodies were being established so people felt that they were consulted and included.

Amusingly Professor Sky then goes on to remark that they always had lots of money because whenever they found they had none they'd go back to Bagdad and "raid a bank" of Ba'ath Party funds

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What about the other staff? I mean, you had other --

MS EMMA SKY: There were no Brits there. I was the only Brit.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: You were the only Brit there.


BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So you just looked after yourself in the way you thought best?

MS EMMA SKY: Yes, but I had, you know, a brigade who was willing to transport me and take me. If I was going to more dangerous areas, I would use their transport. If it was just going into town each day, you know, I would drive myself.

After a bit more waffle we get onto the political structure of Kurdistan...

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I would like to go further into politics,  which you said was your main activity, and look at this not only from the perspective of your time in the North but also from the period you spent in the CPA governance team, which I think was February to June 2004. How did the North influence the political and constitutional developments for Iraq as a whole?

MS EMMA SKY: I think the North -- when you say the North, the Kurdish leadership was very influential on the developments of the constitution. The Kurds were obviously seen as our allies.  They were the group in Iraq that actually supported the coalition and liked the coalition. They had ten years' extra experience from 1991 to build up their systems, had a clear strategy, clear objectives, and for them it was to increase the powers of their federal region, and to incorporate more of the land which they saw as Kurdish land within that region, to expand their territory. So they were very clear on what they wanted to achieve and they were very influential in Baghdad.

There was a bit of a todo
in Kurdistan in 1991

SIR RODERIC LYNE: They were their allies but to what extent -- they were our allies, but to what extent did their objectives diverge from ours and in particular from the coalition's objective of keeping Iraq as a unitary state?

MS EMMA SKY: I think, you know, when you look back at '03, you could say a lot of the things that the Kurds were doing was just as a step towards independence, a step towards separation from the rest of Iraq. There were some who had reached the strategic decision that it was best for the Kurds to remain as a strong federal region within the country, but a lot of the tactics gave a different impression. So I think in 2004 there was a referendum. I was in Baghdad at this stage, but I remember sort of lorries driving up full of the ballots. The Kurds had voted on should they be independent or not. A very high percentage had voted for independence*. They had come down and delivered the ballots to us, the results of the referendum down in Baghdad.  So there was obviously this tension all the time, because we needed the Kurdish support, and yet some of the actions that they took and some of their rhetoric was driving insecurity along the green line.

*The referendum was unofficial and conducted alongside the Iraqi parliamentary elections and Iraqi Kurdistan elections by the Kurdistan Referendum Movement. The result was 98.8% yes.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Despite the obvious downside, which they would have been well aware of, being sophisticated politicians --


SIR JOHN CHILCOT: -- of the effect it was having on their influence and effect through the rest of the country?

MS EMMA SKY: Yes, but you also had -- because the people who were in power or the people that the CPA brought to power in Baghdad were mostly exiles and these exile groups, the Shia exiles in particular, had very strong relations with the Kurds from this time in exile. You have the Hakim family ...

This is Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim who bears a strinking resemblance to Private Fraser out of Dad's Army.  He created the Badar Brigade which fought with the Iranians during the Iran–Iraq War.  Al-Hakim was very popular with the Shirs (Saddam was a Sunni) and following a failed uprising in Najaf in 1977 did a runner to Iran from where his "Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq" plotted the overthrow of Saddam.  He returned post invasion and his brother Abdul Aziz al-Hakim,

was appointed to the Iraq interim governing council.  Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim was killed on August 29, 2003, when a massive car bomb exploded as he left the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf. The blast killed at least 84 others; some estimate that as many as 125.

The Imām ‘Alī Holy Shrine (Arabic: حرم الإمام علي‎), also known as Masjid Ali or the Mosque of ‘Alī, located in Najaf, Iraq, is the third holiest site for some of the estimated 200 million followers of the Shia branch of Islam. ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib, the cousin of Muhammad, the fourth caliph (Sunni belief), the first Imam (Shia belief) is buried here. According to Shi'a belief buried next to Ali within this mosque are the remains of Adam and Noah.

....and you have the Barzani family, ....

Massoud Barzani (Kurdish: مەسعوود بارزانی; Arabic: مسعود بارزاني‎; born 16 August 1946) is the current President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.   Barzani was born in Mahabad, Iran, during the rule of the Republic of Mahabad. He has five sons and three daughters.  Massoud Barzani and his relatives allegedly control a large number of commercial enterprises in Kurdistan-Iraq, with a gross value of several billion US dollars. The family is routinely accused of corruption and nepotism by some Kurdish media as well as international observers including Michael Rubin. In spite of the alleged accusation, President Barzani on several occasions has denied involvement in any commercial enterprises.  Not my words the words of Wikipedia.  Here's my ex-boss Jimmy Savile explaining how oil licences are awarded under Barzani

Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile OBE KCSG English disc jockey, television presenter and media personality, best known for his BBC television show Jim'll Fix It, and for being the first and last presenter of the long-running BBC music chart show Top of the Pops. He was also known for his fundraising and support of various charities, particularly Stoke Mandeville Hospital. He was widely described as a philanthropist and was honoured for his efforts.

Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile is very pleased about the increased level of exploration which is indeed massive but then no one invested in exploration in Iraq for years because of sanctions ...and well, who wants to spend millions of pounds developing a field if the country is going to be invaded next week or the government fall like in Lybia leaving one having paid a small fortune to own a worthless piece of paper.  Added to all these disincentives to invest and the beaurocracy of the oil for food progam it is a fact that on a purely technical level extremely autocratic regimes can be difficult to work with as when you have a technical problem people tend to either deny it or not want to confront it for fear of being shot or something ... which is tedious ... but I didn't tell you that.

Please note the previous and following jokes about Ashti looking like the late No-Longer-Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile were written over a year before he died and was discovered to be a [REDACTED] and it was not our intention to compare the two in such a context - it is a long standing joke about his hair. Fortunately it is not possible to libel someone retroactively and the text is out of time to sue. Not that anyone has threatened to - this is just a top tip for defaming people by mistake.

In May 2010 the journalist Sardasht Osman was murdered after criticising the Barzani family. In July 2010 the opposition paper Rozhnama accused the Barzani-led KDP of pocketing large sums from illegal oil-smuggling while earlier in march Jimmy Savile had been in the news after a run in with the Financial Services Authority that implicated Tony Blair.  The legal validity of these licences is also dubious as Kurdistan is not recognised as a country by the United Nations.  Hence Jimmy Savile's strong assertions that no development is taking place in disputed territory.  On the 20 of March 2012 as I was writing this at least 45 people have been killed in a series of co-ordinated attacks in cities across Iraq including Kerbala and Kirkuk.

Kurdistan has two main parties , the KDP led by Massoud Barzani and the PUK led by Jalal Talabani (the incumbent president of Iraq)

Talabani had been a promiment member of CARDRI ("Committee Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq") as previously explained here.

....whose relations go back generations.  So you can look at those who were in Iraq all along who had a very different sense of the country, and those exiled politicians who came back, who had again a different vision. So there were these tensions going on between different groups on the future of the country.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did this affect your own personal relations with leading Kurds? At times you were having to be the person who was restraining them or saying no to them.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: Yes. Even today Kirkuk is an unresolved and very heated issue in Iraq. What influence on the subsequent history of Kirkuk did the early actions of the CPA have?

MS EMMA SKY: We tried very hard -- this was by August 2003 -- to get Kirkuk recognised with special status, that it was something different, because what was driving the insecurity was the final status of Kirkuk. Should it be part of Kurdistan or should it be part of the centre? What we tried to do right from the beginning is to say, "Look, this place is different. It has always been different. Could we have special status?" You could say for five years or ten years. So look at Kirkuk for this period as a region in its own right. Build up the capacity of local leaders in their council to discuss their issues, to work through these issues of mother tongue teaching, the returning of the displaced people, the rights of those who had been moved there through Arabisation. Give them time to work this through, because when we get the scramble for Kirkuk and all are trying to pull it, nobody had the opportunity to really deal with the tougher issues.  So this was -- we looked at this. We looked at having a special rapporteur for Kirkuk. We looked at having it in the UN Security Council Resolution, and there was some traction, but again with all the other issues going on, with all the other deals being done, it never got that special status.  So today, seven years on, the United Nations is still looking at some of those same issues for Kirkuk as a potential resolution. I regret that we were unable to get it pushed through in '03 when we were more powerful to do so. So I regret that we didn't succeed.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: The "we" in that case being who?

MS EMMA SKY: We the coalition, CPA.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Right, and not, for example, simply a British component within the coalition looking at political development in Kirkuk specifically?

MS EMMA SKY: The broad coalition.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Can we just look briefly at the transition from the CPA to the handover of sovereignty? When the announcement was made in 2003 of the accelerated timetable for a handover, what impact did that have on the North and indeed on the job that you were doing there?

MS EMMA SKY: What it did was, if you like, speed up the competition for power. By this stage we had Muqtadr Al Sadr sent a representative to the North to Kirkuk, and because, as you imagine, a lot of the Arabisation Arabs were Shia Arabs, so you had the Sadrists concerned that, you know, Kirkuk shouldn't be taken out -- Kirkuk should remain part of Iraq. You had demonstrations. So at the government building there'd be 2000, 3000 Kurds would turn up, "Kirkuk is Kurdistan", using the fire engines and the police cars as their floats for the demonstration. After that you would then get an Arab and Turcomen demonstration: "One country, brotherhood of Kirkuk. Kirkuk must say in Iraq".
So you would have this effect of demonstrations after demonstrations. There'd be violence. People would be killed on the edges of the demonstrations. Walkout of the provincial council. The Arabs and the Turcomen withdrew and said, "You are just handing over our province to the Kurds".  So it did increase, this sense. Of course, with that going on you would have sanctuary, if you like, given to some of the former regime elements, and it also provoked more of the nationalist insurgency to think, "Our country -- there's no place for us. Our town, our province has been given away". So it did add -- those tensions were already there. It just increased them a notch.

They then go on to discuss the administrative law...

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Right. You mentioned the transition of administrative law earlier. How was that viewed by Kurdish leaders in relation to their wish for greater autonomy?

MS EMMA SKY: I think the Kurdish leaders felt they got a lot out of that. There were specific clauses that were put in to meet their concerns. So TAL 58 and I think 53, those articles looked at the legal integration of Kurds back into their original homes or back on to their original lands. So I think -- I mean, I wasn't -- I got there for the latter stages of the negotiations, but I think the Kurds were pleased with what they managed to get put into the TAL and that was later transferred into Article 140 in the constitution.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: And the final question from me at this point. You were the only Brit there at the time. Do you feel, looking back on it, that the UK as the country co-responsible for the occupation of Iraq in international legal terms for the whole of the country paid sufficient attention to the North and to constitutional developments there?

MS EMMA SKY: I actually think that the UK in particular had a good grasp of those issues. We had people like Liane Saunders who had a very strong understanding of Northern issues and Kurdish ambitions.

This is Lianne Saunders the fully qualified Personal Trainer & Massage Therapist. Her fitness history includes 10 years in competitive gymnastics followed by personal training in a gymnasium setting. She is passionate about running and outdoor training of any variety. The main focus of Lianne's exercise routines is on improving your cardiovascular fitness, core strength, and flexibility. 

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Could you just position her, who she was and where she was?

MS EMMA SKY: She was Foreign Office and based in CPA North in Irbil, and been working on Kurdish, Turkish issues for years. So I think we did have Brits who had good understanding of the Kurdish issues. What was difficult was that the issue of a place like Kirkuk, the Kurds had been very sophisticated, very experienced politicians, and yet on the national level there were not leaders of the other communities represented at the national level, and so you had sort of exiled Shia politicians who had no understanding or no resonance with the local population at the national level. There were no Kirkukis who were Turcomen, or Sunni Arab, or Shia Arab, or Christian, Kakai),whatever, from Kirkuk represented at the national level. So there was an imbalance of the levels of influence and that's what made it hard.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Can we talk a little bit about the Iraqi expectations, because I think in hard lessons it is stated that Ambassador Bremer set some lofty new goals. In regard to (inaudible) and so on expectations were rather inflated. Was that the case in the North? What were the expectations of the CPA?

MS EMMA SKY: I think, you know, people had such -- Iraqis had such high expectations. I think when you look around, most Iraqis were probably relieved to see the regime fall. They didn't know what was going to happen next, but they didn't themselves feel threatened. It was just not knowing what was going to happen, but they had the sense, "This is America.  America could put a man on the moon. You wait. Within six months we are going to go like this". They had huge expectations. They would say, "After every war Saddam rebuilt the country in six months. Imagine what America could do after six months".

Regular rearders may recall SIS1 got quite angry about

Jerry Bremer (Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq) who he accuses of being a bully and also of being very rude to Sir Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom Ambassador to the United Nations for five years, from 1998 to July 2003

Here's a quick flashback...

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Can you make a judgment about whether our influence was
sufficient, proportionate, effective?

SIS1: As a partner in this enterprise, we were disregarded by the CPA. Our advice was not taken into account. Bremer
had in Jeremy Greenstock an extraordinary partner if he chose to use him, and he treated him disgracefully. He would rebuke him in meetings and tell him that he didn't expect to be contradicted, when Jeremy was offering, you know, a correcting or modifying view.


SIS1: And I think that says a lot about Bremer's arrogance. He was under clear political orders, and he didn't know a lot about the country, and that's quite a lethal combination.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Arrogance and insecurity sometimes go together.

SIS1: Arrogance and ignorance and insecurity, and I think, you know, if he had embraced Jeremy Greenstock and they had -

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Just a last point on that, because we have got a lot of other evidence to take. Bremer was definitely acting under political direction on those key decisions about de-Ba'athification and disbandment?

...but back to Professor Sky...

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Was that the case in the North as well? I mean, was it across Iraq or was it just around Baghdad? I mean, I wanted to get a feel of what were the expectations in the North?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, I can talk about Kirkuk. I can't really talk about the North.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Okay. Talk about Kirkuk.

MS EMMA SKY: In Kirkuk there were these big expectations, people waiting for all these things that were going to happen.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: And how did you communicate with local people, you know, the plans that you had and how did you manage those expectations?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, we had these -- again these different forums. So constantly in dialogue listening to people, what are their needs, what needs doing here, what needs doing there. So very, very -- I mean, every single day I would be down in the government building. Hundreds of people I would meet all the time, listening. I mean, at the beginning people were turning up to say, "We have seen Saddam. He is driving a taxi. We have found WMD". There were people constantly coming with pieces of information.  Then things started to calm down a bit. It was like, "We need this or we need that". If you start to say, "Okay", responding to everything, you can never meet those expectations. So managing them was getting the Iraqis, the Kirkukis to look, go out, assess the needs of their town, consult, work out what is required, and then how to allocate resources. The trouble that people had was that the big decisions, decisions on appointments couldn't be made locally in Kirkuk. They were still controlled from Baghdad.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: And how did you manage that tension?

MS EMMA SKY: Very, very hard, because the whole de-Ba'athification issue hit us badly, because it hit one community in Kirkuk. It didn't hit all the communities evenly. So one community ended up not having any doctors in its hospitals or any teachers in its schools, and so this was driving instability. Then it had big unemployment, and we wanted to try and balance the administration so that all communities felt helped. We could set up forums that would decide -- look at all the different CVs and say, "Look, these are the most suitable people", but then we couldn't get those people put on the payroll.  So this was a constant frustration. With de-Ba'athification we tried to contest the law. We went down to Baghdad and said, "Look, this is having really bad effects on our environment, you know, particularly in the health and education sector". So we tried to contest it. General Odierno who was responsible for the area gave an amnesty to teachers and doctors.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: On his own authority?

MS EMMA SKY: On his own authority, yes. He wrote a letter. So people would turn up with the letter of amnesty. So that was fine for a certain period, but again Baghdad controlled the payroll. So what the military did then was hire people back as janitors on their CERP funds to keep the schools and the hospitals going, but there was a limit for how long this could go on.  So this -- the province wanting -- you could get the forums to get people to discuss what needed doing, but then they didn't have the authorities and the responsibilities. So that was constantly going down to Baghdad to say, "Look, we need the authorities to do this". We never got them, but we tried.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: You tried, but you did not get a positive response from the CPA?

MS EMMA SKY: Because the system itself, even if it had said "Yes", it didn't have the bureaucracy to implement a lot of these decentralisation issues.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: I want to understand how far this is a matter of a centralisation philosophy of Baghdad by the CPA and how far it is a matter of imperfect bureaucratic communications and systems and processes.

MS EMMA SKY: In one aspect. CPA wanted to make sure the centre never became strong again. So it wanted decentralisation, and yet the centre didn't necessarily know how to devolve those powers, if that makes sense. It's --

Professor Sky's iteresting conjecture may perhaps be a bit too honest as it is cut off suddenly by...

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: A supplementary supplementary. Was the centre being driven by a sense, "We're dealing with chaos across Iraq as a whole. The only way to make order out of chaos is to take all the big decisions ourselves"? Was that in the Bremer period how they felt do you suppose?

MS EMMA SKY: An element of it, but you also have these centrifugal forces and things trying to rip the country apart. You know, you are going to get every province declaring independence and going its own way. So you were trying to keep things together, because until you have elected officials -- we didn't have elected; we had selected or caucus selected in those days -- until you have elected officials how are you going to have legitimacy in who gets appointed in which position? So the legitimacy issues were always contested.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: But talking about your position, the sense I'm getting is that you had a good communication. You had got yourself a good system. You were communicating with people. You know what the local issues were. You were trying to influence CPA Central. Were they not listening to you? I mean, what was the impact of that communication, if any?

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, I'll give you one example. We had three people who were prisoners of war in Iran. When they had come back, when they had been released, they were given Ba'ath Party membership level for al-firqa. So they were given housing and they were given jobs.  De-Ba'athification comes along and these people, their jobs are taken away and their housing is taken away. So trying to go down to the Ministry of Oil, whose payroll they were on, to get the Ministry of Oil to overturn this order for these three individuals, months and months trying to do this, and yet who had the payroll? Where is it? How is it controlled? It was beyond the capacity of CPA to -- everyone was saying, "This is a terrible situation. It is not meant to be for people like this". I mean, their psychological health, their mental health, it was terrible the pressure it put on people.  So some of these things, there wasn't the capacity of clear organisation. It wasn't computerised, that they could just do a switch and pay came back. So all those people who got the de Ba'ath orders that were then overturned, sometimes they still didn't get back on to the payroll. So it was hard, very hard. A lot of it was a capacity issue.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I mean, looking back, would there be any sort of lessons how the CPA engaged with leaders and local people that you want to --

MS EMMA SKY: If we were to do an Iraq again?


MS EMMA SKY: Yes. I mean, the main lesson -- the main lesson -- there are so many lessons, but one would be to work with the existing structures as best you can. We were too radical in what we tried to do. So, okay, you know, the military, the security forces had all melted away. Yes, that is true, but we could have called them back. The administration should have been called back and we should then been much more discerning about who were the individuals who were responsible for crimes, and not to put a blanket order that put so many people outside the new Iraq. And you can think, okay, most people in the Ba'ath Party, the majority would have been Shia, but you didn't get that same response. I think for the Sunni population it was all their leaders were Ba'athist. There was no strong Sunni opposition group in exile. With the Shia population they knew that the changes were going to bring them power in the future. Their leaders were coming back from exile and, of course, were very anti-Ba'athist, and so I think the communities probably absorbed those who were de-Ba'athed, and also de-Ba'athifing didn't go as deep in the Shia community as it did in the Sunni community. You see Shia who were Ba'ath members who were forgiven and brought back in. It had a much more profound effect on the Sunni community.


SIR JOHN CHILCOT: In a few minutes we might take a break for tea or coffee. Before that could I round off with a few rather general questions?  The first is taking Iraq as a whole and the CPA policy, it was essentially one of dividing Iraq into sectors, different nationalities leading in different places, different arrangements set up in different sectors.
Was there any practical alternative to doing it that way? Could you have had a uniform approach throughout Iraq with a contract between military and civilian responsibilities within the CPA?

MS EMMA SKY: I think there are two ways of answering that. One would be if the CPA had not been so radical, it would have had kept the existing Iraqi structures and wouldn't have had to have an international presence across the country. So it could have worked just removing a tiny little elite and then you're working with the rest. You can manage that in many different ways. You wouldn't have had to have such a strong -- but because the policy was more radical --

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: And that started with de-Ba'athification and disbandment or at least failure to recruit the army?

MS EMMA SKY: Yes. I mean, the idea, this was not just about removing Saddam. This became, you know, a liberal democracy and became much more ambitious in its goals.  So how would you manage the international effort differently? It is hard, because I think the model that we created in Kirkuk was a great model, and when I speak to people from that time, people still come up to me and say, "Do you remember that time?" because we have never felt so effective working in a post-conflict environment as we did then.  Could you do it by design? I am not sure, because what makes you -- what was so good then was we all brought something different. Put us all in one organisation; we become one beast.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: So the Kirkuk model is not something you would feel confident in offering as a model for wider application or in different countries or situations?

MS EMMA SKY. Well, I mean, the model was -- you know, the model was taken back to the US army war colleges. It affected very much how different US military adapt to their PRTs in the future after that. 

As a bit of a tangent here's Peter Van Buren on the adaptation on PRTs

The vehicle for these accomplishments would be State Department– led Provincial Reconstruction Teams like the ones I served on. PRTs harkened back to the failed Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS) program in Vietnam,

in which State, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and military personnel theoretically worked together to improve the lives of local people and so distance them from the insurgents. In practical terms, PRTs were locally located State Department outposts, usually in or near big cities like Baghdad, Mosul, and Erbil. The first PRT popped up in Baghdad in the spring of 2006. The Secretary of State herself

flew in for one of the grand openings in Mosul. At the peak in 2007, there were thirty- one PRTs and thirteen ePRTs in Iraq, a few run by stalwart allies like South Korea and the British.  (Unlike an ePRT, which lived tightly enmeshed with the military, a regular PRT stood apart from the military, with its own contracted mercenary security.) By 2009, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams had shrunk in number to sixteen and were All- American, though a former Italian journalist still headed the one in Dhi Qar, where they had a wood- burning pizza oven and enjoyed red wine with dinner, no doubt easing the strain of war. The teams would leave Iraq after the soldiers did, this time the mission truly accomplished. 

In contrast to the UK FCO and DFID's sign up if you want to rules about going to Iraq it seems many US civil servants had their arms twisted much more strongly...

Things got serious after State changed personnel rules to make it nearly impossible to get promoted without an Iraq (or Afghanistan, now also Pakistan) tour and added some financial incentives such as special danger pay. With these carrots and sticks, discord was tamped down, the conservative pundits were put back in their cages (Michelle Malkin in particular suggested someone should slap the “weenie and whiner FSOs” who refused to serve in Iraq), and the FSOs were lined up for the surging PRT program without anyone’s having to be forced to go, sort of.

MS EMMA SKY: So it did have a big impact, but the tensions between military and civilians were always going to be there. I think if there's training, if there's things you take away -- it is how you work with people to develop your common objectives. If you get -- it is not so much the bureaucratic structures, the jobsworths. It is looking at what are you trying to achieve, what is the mission. If you realise you can come together, a whole bunch of people with very different backgrounds, to realise, "We have a common objective, which is to see Iraqis running their own business and us going home", then everyone starts to work towards that and they will adapt their own bureaucracies accordingly, but to have people who were NGO and who had never worked with military, and to have people who were technical advisers, and to have people who, you know, had Balkan civil affairs experience, to be able to benefit, to have an environment that benefits from the synergy of those was great. We have spent years discussing, "Should you have this standing civil capacity that you can send out at any moment to do anything?", and it goes on and the debate will go on.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Given that there was a sectorisation approach pursued for Iraq as a whole, and looking at the main UK responsibility in the south, south-east, you said that in effect there was no direction, strategic or otherwise, coming from London to you personally. There were a few Brits scattered around the North, yourself notably included.
Do you sense that a more directed strategy by the UK, fulfilling its share of its responsibility first as joint occupying power and then with the coalition, could or should have led it to concentrate as much of the UK resource as possible, including staffing, in the south-east --

MS EMMA SKY: I think --

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: -- as opposed to spreading it round?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, you can debate it. From looking at the British contribution over the last seven, eight years, I think the British contribution has been in a way more effective when it has been as a good ally to the US. When it does it separate, it tends to almost be less influential on the overall thing, because you always get, you know, "We are Brits and we know how to do this better than Americans". When it is actually working within an American environment, when Americans tend to be better resourced and are more a culture which is much more can-do than a British environment, there is opportunities for Brits to be very influential in the overall strategy.  You can see this when people have been embedded how that has worked and how that has been appreciated. So I'm not sure this idea of carving out fiefdoms, whether it is the Kingdom of Helmand or the Kingdom of Basra, is the best way to go. I think, given the expertise that the UK does have and experience that the UK does have, but the lack of resources that the UK does have, it can play better in a multi-lateral -- an international environment than it can on its own.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thank you. Just a couple of last questions, again I am afraid rather general, but one is something Jeremy Greenstock said to us when he was offering his reflections and giving his evidence. He said in his view the year of the CPA was and I'm quoting him:

  Is that too pessimistic and downbeat a view, looking back from 2011 to that year?

MS EMMA SKY: I think it's very, very hard for anyone who served there. You will see people who worked so hard, who tried so hard, and you can say there were many successes at a tactical level and yet the bigger picture didn't go as everyone hoped. Thousands upon thousands of people lost their lives because of it. You can look at the whole Iraqi endeavour. It has been hugely costly in blood and treasure.  Can we judge it yet? What will Iraq be in the future I think remains to be seen. Nobody denies the huge cost or the mistakes, but I wouldn't look back and write it off like that yet. You know, it set up the conditions for all these different insurgencies. It drove the country towards a civil war. We lost hundreds, the Americans lost thousands, the Iraqis lost tens of thousands of people, but there is still a potential in the years to come that the Iraqi people have a much better future, much better lives than they ever had under a Saddam regime or what might have followed with his sons.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: So if one is attempting to strike such a conclusion about the worthwhileness, you would say, first, it is premature and anyway 2010/11 is far too soon to judge?


SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thank you. One last point. You have spoken about the working relationship you formed with the Americans and the American military not least. Can you say something about how rapid, how responsive the American military system is, and I have contrasted it with our own, of course, in learning lessons from mistakes, failures and misunderstandings? Is it quick, slow?

MS EMMA SKY: I think the US military is probably the fastest learning organisation I've ever come across and you can look at '03/'04 and the sense of, "Oh, my God! What have we done with all this power? What reaction have we caused? Why? Why couldn't we call an insurgency an insurgency? Why can't we call a civil war a civil war?", because it always meant you were applying the wrong -- the wrong responses.  They put huge effort into understanding Iraq, learning why things had gone wrong, then readapting their military. I think when you look at US military today and you compare it with '03, you would think it was 20, 30 years had gone by.  So they were very keen to take learning from people outside the military. I've gone to the US on numerous times. I've gone to the US army war college, helped them develop new training materials, helped them understand what is happening in Iraq. They're very quick to learn and adapt, learn and adapt and to come back as a much more professional and better force.  I think on the UK side there was always a sense that, you know, "The Brits know how to do this sort of thing: Malaya, found the ultimate truth in Northern Ireland. We now how to do this. Look at them". So there was far less introspection at the time. So even though much smaller, the UK's development, learning and adapting came later than the US's.  I think now if you go and look at the British military insurgency doctrine, it really has changed but there was a lag behind the US. There was a lag in that.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thank you. We are about to take a short break, but before we -- after that we will turn to Baghdad and 2007 onwards. Before that, though, are there any other general reflections you'd like to offer us from the '03/'04 period? We have covered quite a lot of ground, but there may be more to say.

MS EMMA SKY: I think something we did that was interesting with the former Iraqi army, because we obviously had a whole bunch of people who were former Iraqi army who had lost their jobs when we disbanded the army, so what we did was bring together a Military Affairs Committee. So we went out, we found out who these guys were and brought them together in this committee, and we would meet with them regularly and ask them to advise us on the resourcing, the recruiting of the local security forces, and it made them feel a sense of worth. Okay they couldn't -- they were no longer in the military. They would even turn up for the meetings sometimes in their uniforms. The US military, if they were higher ranks than them, would call them "Sir", treated them with great respect and brought their -- listened to them, sought their advice on how to set up -- we had this thing called the ICDC, Iraqi Civil Defence Corps

 -- so how to recruit the ICDC, to look after the rights of those who had been put out of work, the old army. So that was just another way we dealt with that group of people and I think that went -- I think that was a good idea.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: And that was both the substance of it, the substantive value of the input from the former army officers and also the management of attitude?


SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Conferring status, dignity on people?


SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Good. Thank you very much. Let's come back in about seven or eight minutes. Time for a cup of tea.

MS EMMA SKY: Thank you.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Well, let's restart. I'll ask Sir Lawrence Freedman to take up questioning. Lawrence.

After a civilised spot of tea things get much more interesting as we learn what level of affiliation Professor Sky felt she had with the UK at this point.  A level which it seems can be bluntly described by the word "None"

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Thanks very much. So after you left CPA you'd been doing things as far as I can see in Israel and Afghanistan and so on. Then how did you return to Iraq?
You became part of General Odierno's Initiatives Group.

Can you explain how you came to be involved in that?

MS EMMA SKY: I knew General Odierno from 2003/2004. He had been the Commanding General for Kirkuk, Diyala and Salahdin. So he visited regularly. I'd gone down to Baghdad with him every month to the Ambassador Bremer conference. So we got to know each other very well through this period.  So I'd seen him again when I was in Jerusalem. He was military advisor to Condoleezza Rice.

So we met up then. I was in Afghanistan in 2006, and just as I got out he was appointed to be the future Corps Commander for Iraq. So he sent me an e-mail saying, "Please will you come and be my political advisor?" So that's how it happened.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So that was the actually the role in which you went back?

MS EMMA SKY: Yes. I was his POLAD, political advisor.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And were there any issues about the fact that you were a Brit coming to do this?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, I mean, I said "Look, we don't have a coalition any more. So it's not the same. I am obviously not an American. Any problems?" The military doesn't care. I mean, normally that role is for a State Department role, but then you've all the tensions between the military and State Department. So having me who doesn't belong to anybody makes it easier in a way.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And what sort of institution affiliation did you have back in the UK at this point?




SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So you essentially were going as a private citizen?

MS EMMA SKY: Yes. There was no way back to the British Council after my sort of experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One has to wonder if Ms Sky was in Iraq as a private citizen any of her testimony is REDACTED since this infers she was not subject to the offical secrets act?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So can you tell us a bit about the Initiatives Group itself and what role -- well, its make-up, purpose and the role you played within it?

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, the Initiatives Group was just a minor piece. I mean, I was the General's political advisor. Everywhere he went, every meeting he went to I went with him. So I was closely involved right from the beginning when I arrived. Obviously it was an assessment of what's the situation in Iraq? So sitting with him we brought in a few others who became known as the Initiatives Group to look at that situation and to think, "Why have we got all this violence? What can we do about the violence?", and this was the start of discussions on what to do, the surge, how to make use of those extra forces.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But your basic relationship was with him. What about relationships with the Ambassador in Baghdad, Dominic Asquith and Christopher Prentice?

... from left to right Edward Chaplin CMG OBE, The Hon Dominic Asquith CMG and Christopher Prentice CMG, HM Ambassadors to Iraq (2004 – 2009 collectively - see Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped in Iraq )

Did you see much of them?

MS EMMA SKY: I would go with him to his meetings with them. So he might have dinner with them once a month or something like that, but our relationship was obviously much more with the US Embassy.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What about with Graeme Lamb and Bill Rollo? Was that -- they were the senior British military representatives. I presume you did see more of them?

Lieutenant General Bill Rollo is the Senior British Military Representative to Iraq and Second in Command of the Coalition forces gave his views to MOD News"You can't live here, as I do, and travel around without being conscious of the severity of the challenges facing Iraq. Nevertheless, when I go out, I come back encouraged, as I see, slowly and unevenly, the country coming back to life.  I think the surge, together with the change in attitude of the Sunni population, has had a very substantial effect on security across Iraq. It's designed to enable political and economic progress, and the challenge for the Iraqis and us is to make use of the opportunity. Dynamics are different in the south. There is no Sunni insurgency and the provinces face low level intra-Shia violence and criminality. The best people to deal with both are the Iraqis."

MS EMMA SKY: I saw a lot of Graeme Lamb, because we worked very closely with Graeme Lamb on the reconciliation work.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Right. So essentially you were accountable purely to General Odierno. Your links back with the UK were pretty limited and confined largely to the people you were working with.

MS EMMA SKY: Yes. I was seen by the Brits more as an American.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: With a British accent.

MS EMMA SKY: Yes. “It sounds like us, but isn't”, you know.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Okay. Fine. Thanks very much.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thank you. Sir Martin Gilbert would like to turn to campaign strategy and such issues now. Martin.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: When you arrived in January 2007, what was your assessment or your view of the security situation?

MS EMMA SKY: My assessment was, you know, this is the greatest strategic failure since the foundation of the United States. The country has collapsed. We've got civil wars. Baghdad has been ethnically cleansed. US reputation around the world has been hugely damaged and US military reputation, obviously how it will survive as an institution after this is, you know, is in a troubling situation.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Did you arrive before or just after the Bush announcement of the surge strategy, and that was on 10th January?

MS EMMA SKY: Yes. It was before. I arrived at the beginning of January.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: And in terms of the new strategy, what was your understanding of its genesis and of the input from theatre?

MS EMMA SKY: You see, with the surge everybody thinks they did the strategy for the surge. So for us where we were on the ground the President had approved we could have extra forces if we needed them. We knew that was going to come, but for us no thinking had been done on how to bring down the violence, what you would do with those extra forces. There was no advice that we saw telling us that.  So for us, as we see it, our version is we were the ones who designed the strategy for how to bring down the violence  in Baghdad. So General Odierno and his small circle, we were the ones -- we believe we were the ones to design the strategy. You hear all these people in Washington saying they designed it. For us they designed -- they did enough to get the policy approved. For us we did the operational piece. So for us it was the analysis.  I mean, when I gave the assessment that I just gave to you, General Odierno's response was, "So what are we going to do about it then? You know, we're not leaving it like this". So it was a very different sort of response, let's say, the UK had. With him it was, "What are we going to do about it?", and so we used to -- we sat and we talked what drove the violence. Why do people use violence? The enemy had been referred to as the enemy or anti-Iraqi forces or anti-coalition forces. I mean, who were these people and why were they using violence? So having that discussion banning the use of the term FREs, FRL, all these different abbreviations, call them by their names, find out who they are and call them as such was a big shift in the mindset, and that's when a lot of the discussions with Graeme Lamb ...

So once we got a better understanding of what was driving instability in Iraq, framing it in terms of drivers of instability, not enemy, then looking at: what is it we can do to change the situation around? How do we get people to stop using violence? How do we separate the reconcilables from the irreconcilables? How do we bring down this violence? How do we protect the Iraqi people from the violence and not put all efforts going after the bad guys at the expense of the Iraqi people? So a total change round.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: And in terms of risks associated with this, was this something you were able to make an input on?

MS EMMA SKY: Yes. I mean, I worked very closely with developing this strategy. So looking again, the previous strategy had been we hand over to the Iraqis and we go. We hand over to the Iraqis and we get out, but within the Iraqi security forces you had death squads. You had an Iraqi government that was seen as sectarian. It wasn't targeting the Shia extremists. It was just going after one group. So you had this sense among the Sunni population that they had no future in Iraq.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: And in the -- you've written in your RUSI piece about the integration of the Sons of Iraq. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what problems that created and what opportunities?

MS EMMA SKY: Back in 2006 you could see that within the Sunni community there was this big struggle for power going on between Al Qaeda and Sunni nationalists, foreign fighters with Al Qaeda.  The Sunnis I think by the end of 2006 realised they were losing the civil war. Baghdad had been cleansed hugely, and for them their existence, if you like, in the new Iraq was under threat, and they started to see Iran as a much bigger threat to them than the US.  So one way that they found round this was changing their relationship with the US. It started in Anbar ...

Anbar Province

...where Al Qaeda had killed some sheiks, and the tribal sheiks had gone to take revenge on Al Qaeda and asked the US and then asked the government for support and said, "Look, we are going to stand up against these guys". By so doing they then became on the same side as the US and the US helped them broker their relations with government.  In Anbar the government found this easier to deal with, because it was far out there. Then it started to spread. It started to come into Abu Ghraib.

A guy called Abu Azzam comes forward and says, "Look, hey, I want to turn and fight Al Qaeda", and Abu Ghraib is right on the -- it's like the door, if you like, the door to Baghdad. So the government is much, much more nervous of these people who one day are Al Qaeda and the next day take off the patch, put on another patch and say, “Now we are Sa'hwa, Sons of Iraq". 

"The Sons of Iraq" is a fraternal organisation to reduce violence in Iraq who see
themselves as simply "concerned local citizens" who just happen to be paid
by the US military... now and again...
they are mainly from Sunni tribes
.. and are not be confuse
with The Sons of the Desert (on the right) an international fraternal organization
devoted to lives and films of comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
who's aim is to go to Chicago while their wives think they are in

So we worked very hard to get the government to come with us and meet these guys and get a sense of who they are. Sa'hwa then spread from Abu Ghraib into Amriya, so right into Baghdad, and we then started going round to other areas and working with the local community and said, "Look, don't you want to set up a Sa'hwa too?"  So the numbers grew to well over 100,000. Every time we went to see the government to talk to them about it it was like, "Well, it's 50,000". "It's 55", "60", "70". They had no idea how big this Sunni army, as they saw it, was going to be. They were very nervous that we were setting up alternative security forces to the Iraqi Security Force.  So one of the ways we tried to deal with this nervousness was say, "Instead of this being an American project, take it over". So we worked jointly how to transfer this programme to the government's programme so that these Sons of Iraq, these Sa'hwa, became integrated within the Iraqi security forces, became local police for their areas, which previously didn't have police, or were integrated into civilian jobs.

BAGHDAD / IraqiNews.com: A Sahwa council adviser on Saturday accused neighboring countries of attempting to settle some old scores with the United States on Iraqi land. “Neighboring countries are trying to undermine the security success achieved by the Sahwa project in Iraqi areas where sectarianism and racism have been rife,” Thamir al-Tamimi, otherwise known as Abu Azzam, said during a joint press conference with Sahwa leaders in Baghdad, which was attended by Aswat al-Iraq news agency. “All regional countries that are in dispute with the United States are trying to settle their accounts in Iraq,” Tamimi noted.

I think this is Thamir al-Tamimi (nee Abu Azzam) but there are actually several people with the same name and I seem to have lost my copy of "The Iraqi Tribal System: A Reference for Social Scientists... " by Sam G. Stolzoff at the moment

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Were there long-term problems which you feared or which eventuated as a result of this?

MS EMMA SKY: Well, yes, partly because these civilian jobs don't exist. How can you bring that quantity of people into the public sector? As a government can they be seen to be giving jobs to bad guys before they give jobs to good guys? Some of the government felt that they were really just trying to infiltrate the security forces and then, you know, turn against. There was a lot of suspicion, but by this stage, you know, all the details of these people, all their biometric details were in the government's hands as well, which meant it was hard for them to revert back to being insurgents. Many have made the transition, but there's a number who haven't made the transition and they hang in limbo. You have Al Qaeda taking revenge on them. You've got some people released from jail going after them now with legal cases, and there are some leaders who have fled the country. So it is a mixed bag.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: You have mentioned and we have heard from General Lamb also about his input into the reconciliation. Were there other HMG initiatives that you know of that played their part?

MS EMMA SKY: At the central level, Baghdad level -- sorry -- the national level that was probably the main initiative. [REDACTED] Local commanders in their areas were given the guidelines of how they can go out and help broker deals to turn insurgent groups. So the guidance was given out.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Can we move on to your 2008 assignment as special advisor to General Petraeus? Can you, first of all, tell us something about the transition from one to the other and then what your role entailed with him?

MS EMMA SKY: So 2007, I was there for all of 2007. That was meant to be the surge period, and after that General Odierno was supposed to go and become Vice Chief of Staff of the army. So for me I thought, "This is it. I'm leaving Iraq now", but during this period Admiral Fallon had his sort of issue with that magazine and so stepped down, and all the seats started to change again, and General Petraeus looked like he was going to CENTCOM and they were going to bring back General Odierno.  So there were problems with the Reconciliation Committee, the Iraqi Reconciliation Committee that I'd been working closely with. So Petraeus wanted to get me back anyway -- I was on sort of leave, extended leave. He wanted to get me back anyway to work with the Iraqi Reconciliation Committee, but also I looked at this as coming in a couple of months before Odierno to get the sense of the job before Odierno came back. So I went back in May/June to work for Petraeus.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: At the time you went back were you aware of and were there very clear differences in approach between the American and British approach? We were somehow still pursuing our transition strategy that British and Iraqi control is somehow the goal and the immediate goal.

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, the differences really came in 2007, you know, because we all had the same assessment at the beginning of 2007.

The Americans had said, "We are surging"
and the Brits said, "We're getting out".

So that was the time when you started to see the split coming.  What was difficult I think was the assessment of the situation. So you would have down in Basra they would be saying, "Oh, you know, the situation is so good. That's why we're leaving", and so it just kind of got that narrative that fitted the British withdrawal, which sometimes you wondered, "We don't know because we're not down there, but is that quite right? Is that the way it is?" and there was this mantra, "It's Palermo, not Beirut".

SIR RODERIC LYNE: While we're on this subject of differing analysis and drivers of instability, I just wonder if I can ask you to go into the analysis of this in just a little more detail, because I know you've written about it in the article that was published in the RUSI magazine in April of 2008.  We have heard from some witnesses that the fundamental cause of instability in Iraq, the reason why the security situation became unmanageable was outside interference by Al Qaeda and by Iran in Iraq, and that these were things that could not have been anticipated.  Is that right, which it was really the critically difficult factor in driving instability was outside interference?

Professor Sky then describes the various
different insurgencies and what caused them.  From  Zarqawi linking himself to Bin Laden.... to the Sadrists getting the hump...  "But you also had a Sadrist insurgency which, when they saw the setting-up of the Governing Council which did not have a seat for Sadrists, they saw their sworn enemy ISCI* who they saw as the pawn of the Iranians, you know, and their militias coming into the security forces, then returning to power, they were very suspicious and that caused an insurgency, because they thought they were being cut out of power. 

*Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim (above voting in 2008)

EMMA SKY on the state being seen as SHIR

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You used the term "civil war", which implies essentially something that is internally generated, even if there are external elements supporting it. I mean, is that a correct interpretation of the way you saw it.

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, what drives instability in Iraq is the struggle for power. It's a struggle for power and resources and it's not Kurd, Sunni, Shia. It's very simplistic to view this and we viewed it in purely sectarian, ethnic terms since '03. You have within the Kurds PUK and KDP. They had their own civil war. Within the Shia you have huge differences, and it's based on, you know, your ideology, or the Wilat al-Faqih ....

Providence of the Jurist (
Wilayat al Faqih) is a Shia Islamic tradition which purports that Islam gives a faqih custodianship over people. There are different interpretations of how far this authority should extend.  "Limited" Guardianship purports that such guardianship should be non litigous.  Whereas "absolute" guardianship does very much what it says on the tin and was very popular as a theory with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran.

I'm sure we've all read his witty volume "Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist"
which according to the US government funded RAND organisation has resulted in this organoram

*The Faqih is one who has fulfilled the conditions for Ijtihad either in their entirety or in piecemeal.  Ijtihad  is the making of a decision in Islamic law (sharia) by personal effort (jihad), independently of any school (madhhab) of jurisprudence (fiqh) as opposed to taqlid, copying or obeying without question.  Confused?  So am I...

....or whether you believe the cleric should have a different -- you know, a non-political role, whether you're merchant class, whether you're rural, whether you are educated or non-educated. You have got all those divisions.  Sunnis had never identified as a community as such. You have the Islamists. You have the tribals. You have the professionals. You have all of these different groups. You have this huge power struggle. You have taken the top off and you have this power struggle going on between all the different communities. Everybody wants a bit and we'd said, "You can have" and "You are bad".  So it was building up a state before you had a mediated solution between the different groups, not that that mediated solution is easy -- but it is inherently -- the conflict in Iraq is inherently a struggle for power and resources. The different groups will go outside to foreign benefactors to help their side, but it's -- it's developing the mechanisms whereby this dispute can take place or this competition for power can take place peacefully rather than violently. That is the challenge.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Thank you very much.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Before returning to Martin Gilbert, I think, Usha, you have a supplementary.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I do. You very clearly described as to what was happening. Was this understood at the time by those who were trying to deal with the situation or were they having a very simplistic view of it? I mean, you did make reference that, you know, we tended to look at it through the ethic, sectarian divisions and didn't understand it is part of a struggle. Was it understood at the time?

MS EMMA SKY: You know, the way in '03/'04 there was -- we can't call it an insurgency. '06/'07, we can't call it a civil war.   I think by any definition, any definition of the term, Iraq was in a civil war.

How else can you describe that level of killing of -- you know, Sunnis were being killed with drills through their heads.

Shia were having their heads chopped off. You could see who was killed by a Sunni and who was killed by a Shia on the types of murders that were taking place.

You could see a spiral of attacks all the time: blowing up of mosques, chopping off or drilling of heads. You just see this constant cycle.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: But what I'm asking is: was it understood by the coalition as to what was happening at the time, that this is something --

MS EMMA SKY: Well, they won't call it that, because it was politically too difficult to call it that, but people would start to say "the sectarian violence" and the coalition by the beginning of '07, when we were having our discussions on what to do, could understand that government was part of the problem, that we had to stand back a bit and act a bit more like a third party to shape everybody's behaviour. So it became a virtual circle, because we started changing our behaviour. Sunnis start to change their behaviour. Government starts to change its behaviour. Sadrists, the Shia community start to change behaviour. So everyone started to react differently in what became a virtuous circle.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thanks. Martin, back to you.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Can I just turn briefly to the question of MND(South-East) and Basra? First of all, from your perspective, from the Baghdad perspective, how important was success in Basra to the overall campaign, to the overall situation?

MS EMMA SKY: You know, at the beginning of 2007 we were so focused on Baghdad. Basra was down there, but hey, you know, this was about Baghdad. The surge, everything, was about Baghdad, because most of the violence was there, and the future of the country would be defined there. So in '07 I don't remember being focused on Basra.  By the time I get back the Charge of the Knights down in Basra has happened, but I am in Baghdad May/June 2008, and I had been working -- I had not only been working with the Sunni Sa'hwa, but I'd been working with the Jayash al Mahdi ceasefire in '07 in a particular area of Baghdad called Jihad.  So I went -- as soon as I got back, Baghdad, where we were in the Green Zone, was under attack from Sadr City.

They were trying to draw attention off what had been going on in Basra by attacking the Green Zone out of Sadr City. So Shia politics did become a big issue.  I went back to Jihad. I could see -- you know, the virtuous escalator where you bring everyone out of insurgency into peaceful existence was sort of suddenly going the other way, because when Basra comes under attack, Sadr City comes under attack, they feel their community is coming back under attack, so everyone gets nervous again.  So I started to see more then of -- started to look a bit  more into what was going on in the south, but I never spent much time in Basra.

If anyone did go to Sadr City to see what went of it certainly wasn't the official British Dimplomatic team who were safely ensconsed in the Bagdad Green Zone...

JOHN TUCKNOTT (Deputy Head of Mission in Baghdad from November 2007 until July 2009):  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.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: What coordination was there between the US and the UK in terms of the approach to the Sadrists?

MS EMMA SKY: It's different, because with the Sunnis, the US and the Sunnis found a common enemy, if you like. They came together against Al Qaeda. So you can create a narrative and come together on the same side doing this, and the US was negotiating this from a position of strength, real position of strength.  "With the surge we are not defeated. We are coming back". So any of the Sunnis who thought, "Hey, we can get rid of the US.  They have no political will. They are leaving", the surge,  massive psychological effect just by saying, "We are not leaving it like this".  With the Sadrists there was no common goal. There was no like, "Okay. We have joined together". The Sadrists were very clear they wanted occupation out. They viewed the occupation as the root of all the problems. They saw the occupation as the ones who put these Shia aligned with Iran in power, the ones who were excluding them from power, the ones responsible for sectarianism, the ones who were going after
Muqtadr Al Sadr ...

for involvement in the killing of Abdul Majid al-Khoie*.

*see the Najaf fiaso under
Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped In Iraaq

So they had real anger at the coalition. So it was much harder to find common understanding, much, much harder.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Thank you very much.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thank you. I think, Lawrence, it's your turn.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Thank you. Just carrying on from Martin in terms of the type of approaches from the UK and the US -- and you've alluded to this already -- the British line by the start of 2003 crudely was in MND (South-East) we had become part of the problem and that therefore we must extract ourselves from the situation.  Was that how you saw things from Baghdad at that time as being the position in MND(South-East)?

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, we obviously received the MND(South-East) briefing.


MS EMMA SKY: For General Odierno he is not going to second guess his commander on the ground. He is not on the ground. So he takes the assessment. What we had found in Baghdad, which you could say yes, the US had been a driver of violence at a particular time, but by the era that we were in, by 2007, the fighting was against each other.   It was the internal power struggle. It wasn't us. So they each had more problems with each other and in their own communities than they had with us.  Particularly the Sunnis, they were like, you know, "The Americans in comparison with the Iranians, the Iranians are the problem. The Iranians are never going away. The Americans will go away, but we need the Americans. They will push back the Iranians". Obviously in Basra it is different, but it's still an internal power struggle. It is not cross-sectarian, it is intra-sectarian that is going on, a struggle for control, a struggle for resources, and it's that battle, you know, that where does insurgency become criminal? It's hard to say one or the other. It's very linked in this power struggle that is going on, and I think many times there was a failure to understand that just because we said, "These people are government forces and we see them as government forces" didn't mean to say that the local population saw them as that.  Particularly you have all those people who fought in the Iran-Iraq war and those militias coming back had been on the Iran side in the Iran-Iraq war. So you have all of this internal stuff that we are never going to understand that was going on.  Sadrists splintered all over the place, immature, irresponsible, very hard to do deals with, angry, excluded, no political strategy, so certainly not an easy group, certainly not an easy group to deal with.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So in the face of all of this the British withdrew. You said that the impact of the surge was a statement that the Americans had not been defeated. Do you think the British gave the opposite impression?

MS EMMA SKY: I think it has been perceived by some in that way.  The Sadrists will claim that they are the ones who won and they pushed out the Brits. I think the Iraqi government will claim that the Brits didn't stand there and fight and at the end when it came to Charge of the Knights, ...

.....when Maliki launches his operation to go down, because he has had enough of this challenge to his authority, and he goes down to Basra and he is like, "Oh!", he had over-estimated his own forces, it was the Americans who came down and bailed him out, because the risk of him failing in Basra would have been catastrophic for the country. So Basra by this stage -- because the security overall had improved, the economy is becoming a bigger issue and Basra is obviously a power house of the economy. So Basra is now really important. It had not been so much on our radar when we were focused on the Al Qaeda threat, but Iraq quickly moves on to the next stage. You have to keep reassessing, and so yes.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: You have indicated why the locals and the Iraqi government may have thought the British had been defeated.  What was the American attitude? I mean, did -- you know, because -- we have heard that you characterised from your CPA times the British confidence that we knew how to do this sort of thing from Northern Ireland and so on. Then we find we are not quite in the position we would hope to be in Basra. So the Americans having been told by the Brits, "Follow us and we will show you how to do it" -- you have shown how they learned, how
the British took a while to learn as well. How did that affect American perceptions of their British partners?

MS EMMA SKY: I think, you know, to be perfectly honest the Brits think far more about what do the Americans think of them than the Americans think about them.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I feel that's true.

MS EMMA SKY: Again it is not like the Americans sit around all day talking about, "Gosh!Our allies, the Brits, are they good allies or not good allies?" At the highest level there was always that gratitude to Britain, to Tony Blair for being a good ally for coming along with the war. So at the highest level you've got that.  There's an understanding that, okay, the political situation in the UK was such that there was no longer the political will to maintain troops in country. So at that level there is that understanding.  When you go down a level and look at the guys sort of mid-level officers who had spent all their time reading the British experiences, American officers reading from the British experiences in all of these places who have learned British history, if you like, more than the Brits themselves by now,
because they put so much investment into this, and you will get some -- I think there's been some rub, "You were the guys who said you knew how to do counter-insurgency. So hey, what happened?"  So when the deal is done down in Basra, the analysis by some is the Brits negotiated from a position of weakness, not from a position of strength.  That's why their deals didn't work, and so the Brits have got out of Basra, not -- you know, in a way if you look at the US, the surge created the strategic narrative to depart. Surge forces. Violence comes down. At one level you claim success and you leave. Of course, all the causes of conflict still exist in Iraq. It's still this power struggle that's going on. It's not like anything has been resolved, but the strategic narrative for the US military is a positive one due to the surge, the conditions under which the US departed. With the UK it doesn't have that same narrative, and so much more angst even within the British military. We can't afford to leave Afghanistan in the same way, because what impact will that have on the British military, its use in the future, its self-esteem?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I think that's very interesting.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Could I ask a supplementary?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: If you wish, yes.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: I do. It's whether it is possible to speculate about Maliki's strategy with Charge of the Knights.  Given that he went down with, as we hear, a very unprepared plan, with insufficient or insufficiently robust forces, would there have been in his mind do you suppose a sense he could rely on the US to come in in the South-East behind him, if needed, or even that it was a way of drawing US military forces into the South-East?

MS EMMA SKY: I have not heard it was calculated like that.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Nor does he operate like that.

MS EMMA SKY: You know, if he wanted US forces there, he would have that conversation. He never had that. I don't recall him ever having that conversation. You know, it was clear the Brits were leaving and the US would assume greater control, but I don't think he went down there and said, "Look, I did it as a ruse to get the US down there". I mean, he could have just said, "Look, I want to do this operation. I need your help to do it", and that would have happened.  So I believe he really -- [Long REDACTED Section].

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I just really have one more question.  You have partly answered it I guess. What you are really saying is that the Americans are running a big operation and the British are there doing what they can and there is gratitude for what the British are doing, but the British worry a lot about what the Americans are thinking. The Americans are not thinking quite in the same way.  So does all of this have a big -- have a serious effect on the UK/US relations or is it perhaps in the American eyes not as important, not so important as really to make much difference either way?

MS EMMA SKY: It's difficult to answer, but I think time will tell on this. I mean, again you will hear when General Petraeus speaks, he will always speak with great appreciation of the UK forces. When you look, okay, you have got the US military, the best in the world, but who is second? The British forces are still -- you know, when they operate in Afghanistan, they are operating with none of the caveats of other European nations.  So there's still this sense, of course, the Americans wish the British were bigger and had more resources. There is an appreciation of them, and I think when you have had embeds -- I mean, General Lamb and General Petraeus' relationship was superb. General Lamb, the right person at the right time, managed to get people to see things differently. If he hadn't been there, it might not have gone in the way it had gone. So I think playing that role as embeds, as good allies is a tremendous role, because even if you are from another military and it is a plug-in culture, you are still bringing something which is a bit different, and full credit to the US military to being open to incorporate these differences.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Yes. It is hard to imagine embeds necessarily in the same way. Perhaps an equivalent political advisor working to a British general might be.

MS EMMA SKY: Still we have had as deputy commanders, we have had as planners. When you look at the plan for 2007/2008, I mean, there were Brits who were working on the strategic plan for General Petraeus.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: The final point that I want just to put to you is we heard quite a bit of concerns on the British military side that the scale of the effort will determine the degree of the influence that we have on Americans. What you seem to be saying is actually the individuals were working most closely and their quality, including yourself, that will determine the degree of impact.

MS EMMA SKY: I think it's probably a bit of both, because obviously I would never have got to Iraq in the first place or done anything if it hadn't been for the coalition. The willingness to show preparedness to commit and when committing the troops is important, but it is not to think that is our effort and we are going to do it better. It it's how to be a good ally, how to work better. They are always going to be more equipped and more resourced. They come from a country that's going to be much more appreciative of what they do. So it's easier in a way, but there are real skills and experiences which Brits have that they can contribute, and whether it's Brit military or Brit civilians, there is an acceptance in the US to accept this.  I mean, years of the BBC have made them still think when they hear the British accent, you know, that Brits are educated and experienced. So there is a willingness to have allies there. It's not easy. A lot of it is based on personal relationships, but I don't think you can say it's this or that.  We still need to have willingness to commit troops, but to also work fully in headquarters and contribute in all the other areas. You can look at the British Special Forces when they operated in Iraq were very, very well received by the Americans, great reputation for the work they did out there, particularly [REDACTED]

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: All sorts of particulars.

MS EMMA SKY: All sorts of particulars.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Okay. I think on that point thank you very much. It's very helpful.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: You talked earlier about the relationships between the military and the civilians when you were in Kirkuk and the way that you were able to join them up there, but which wasn't necessarily happening in other sectors of the CPA.  Rolling the story forward to the period we are now talking about when you are working for General Odierno, General Petraeus, had by this later stage a lesson been learned about the need to join up the military and civilian efforts within the coalition?

MS EMMA SKY: It again comes from the top I think and it's the culture that is set, and when you look at the time when you get General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker...

Ryan Croker first went to Baghdad as a young economic officer, a year before Saddam Hussein seized power in 1979. Baghdad had broken off relations with Washington, so the United States had an interest section. U.S. diplomats were under 24-hour surveillance and banned from leaving Baghdad without government permission.

"It was very difficult to make contact with Iraqis, as it was so dangerous for them," recalled former U.S. assistant secretary of state Elizabeth Jones, who was posted in Baghdad as political officer. "Saddam executed most of his first cabinet, so we already knew what a difficult person we were dealing with. . . . Ryan was the best at triangulating the situation and figuring out what was happening."

Crocker returned to Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion to help during the transition and the creation of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He left that July, a time when he and colleagues could still drive to farewell meetings in the capital in unarmored vans.  Before the war he was asked by Colin Powell to write a memo on the problems that might result from invasion.  After listing quite a lot of them... He returned in 2007 as Ambassador

..., the absolute commitment of the two of them then permeated down. So you had them having offices in the Republican Palace which were virtually next door to each other, doing a joint campaign plan, bringing teams out that had military and civilians on them. It was very, very good, and I think that relationship between Petraeus and Crocker and later between Odierno and Crocker set a model for it. It's never going to be easy, because you don't have unity of command. You don't have one guy who is in charge of the military reporting to the civilians, civilians reporting to the military. You don't have that in the US systems. You have this – parallel system, if you like, but if the people on the ground decide to make it work, then it can work. They manage their masters back in Washington.  So by the time we had that combination between Petraeus and Crocker we were getting there, and to look at -- you know, in the joint campaign plan we looked at politics as the leading line there, not security but politics, and so you saw everything the commanders on the ground were doing. Their roles were highly political in managing tensions, protecting people, working out who the good are, who are irreconcilable. So that -- there wasn't competition, "This is our place. This is your place". There was a real development of a common approach.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: What from where you sat, if anything, were you able to perceive of the way that the British, who also had parallel civilian and military chains of command down in MND(South-East), succeeded or failed in joining the two together or coordinating them in the way that Petraeus and Crocker did?

MS EMMA SKY: I think, you know, when you look at the comprehensive approach, the British comprehensive approach, the theory looks great, but the reality is you get the competitions of Whitehall transferred into country. So you end up with these three equal competing parts. In the US system the war was won by defence. No one doubts that. Defence got all the resources. You know, look at General Petraeus. He has a PhD from Princeton...

.... in International Relations. No one is going to question his intellect or knowledge of diplomacy. So you didn't have the same clarity on the UK side.  So you still have, "This is the role of DFID. This is the role of the military. This is Foreign Office". If the military says, "Okay. We're leaving", but the Foreign Office are saying, "No, we're staying" -- so you don't have DFID giving the military the resources to do counter-insurgency in the same way as the US can. So -- and you can see with the PRT not quite knowing who it reported to this was unresolved.  So it sometimes felt like dealing with three different countries rather than one country. So I think that the comprehensive approach or the 3D approach, whatever you want to call it, the actual implementation of that certainly has meant I think that not all the British resources are having the impact they could have, because it's not aligned necessarily how it could be.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Sorry, Rod. Can I ... Is that disjunction also apparent in the British presence in Baghdad after the CPA era as between embassy and Deputy Commander of the Multi National Forces?

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, this reflection was really on what I saw in, let's say, 2007. The CPA, you know, it was all over the place, but then it was certainly a sense that there would be different messages and certainly with the -- you know, the British forces looking with envy at the US forces and the tools they had to do counter-insurgency, and the British military not feeling they had the same tools.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Uh-huh. Thanks.

MS EMMA SKY: Then you could even look at rules of engagement and interpretation of rules of engagement of the political impact.


SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thank you. I suppose one other question which, because this Inquiry operates with the advantage of hindsight, if it is an advantage, but essentially looking for lessons, with hindsight is it possible to speculate whether, for example, the reconciliation process could have been introduced earlier? Could there have been more foresight in the need for such a thing, or was it determined by the gradual learning that the coalition forces underwent over the period from '03 onwards?

MS EMMA SKY: I don't believe there has been real reconciliation in Iraq yet. I think we have ceasefires. So what drove particular groups to ceasefires? Some could argue that the Sunni community need to go through this traumatic experience of, you know, having Sunnis as leaders in power to not having Sunnis as leaders in power. They had to come to terms with that, and so you might say it was inevitable that there was going to be some level of violence. Some will argue that the only thing that brought the Sunnis to the table was when they realised that they had lost the civil war. If they thought they would win, they would continue. Likewise with the Sadrists. If they thought they could win and overthrow the government and get rid of the coalition, they would have continued. What forced them was -- well, I explained with the Sunnis, but with the Sadrists, once the Sunnis had stopped -- once Al Qaeda had stopped doing these attacks on the Shia community, the Shia population became less tolerant of having Shia militias running petrol stations, collecting taxes, running their own Sharia courts. They became less tolerant of that. So they no longer had sanctuary among the population. The coalition and Iraqis were targeting them. It forced them to --
 eventually Muqtadr Al Sadr ...

...to freeze and later after the Charge of the Knights to disband his group. He was forced into it.  So it's not like the different groups have come together, and we tend to or the US might try to take credit for, you know, "We brought the violence to an end", but the US was a player that helped shape an environment, change a psychology that other groups then took different choices, but it was these groups that made the choice to end the civil war through their own reasons. We could have put less people outside the process in the first place. Our actions did put these people outside. So we could have done that differently.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: One of the general questions which this Inquiry has to look at is the level of awareness, knowledge of Iraqi society, the condition of things at the time of the invasion. Given the extraordinary granularity of Iraqi society and given the extraordinary dynamic of events as they unfolded right across the country at different times in different places, was there the possibility of knowing more and doing it better from the start of the invasion or really was there an inevitable process of acquisition of understanding and learning that had to be gone through by the coalition?

MS EMMA SKY: There were always things that we could have done differently obviously and there were things we probably could have done worse. I think the impact of the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Kuwait, that war, sanctions, we didn't understand the impact that this had all had on this society, a huge, huge, huge impact. Look at the Iran-Iraq war. How many people had died? Most of those would have been Shia foot soldiers fighting Shia Iran.

You can look at the 1991 war and that war in which we killed -- I don't know how many people that we killed, but when they heard President Bush say,


and those people rose up
and no one came to help them

and they were massacred.

You then look at sanctions and the impact of sanctions driving so many people to either flee the country, the educated, the talented people to flee, and just to erode their institutions, really, really erode them. You know, you look at -- you meet Iraqis who will talk to you about the '70s and it's a country you don't even see how is it possible, because you can't see it's there.

It's a society that was pushed backwards. It is the impact of sanctions on the education system, on the health system. An estimated half a million children died from this. It was huge. How corruption was introduced through the institutions. They didn't suffer from corruption, so they tell me, really before this period. It had a huge impact.  So what do we think about how people would greet us, given our responsibility for some of those policies?

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: And that was knowable up to a point?

MS EMMA SKY: That was knowable. I didn't know it then, but I've learned it since, what their institutions would be like.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Question: was that knowable? We have accounts from various witnesses of the shock and surprise at the broken-down nature not only of the physical infrastructure but of the social and governmental institutions.

MS EMMA SKY: More was knowable. I mean, I remember saying to Iraqis, "How could we be expected to know you were going to go mass looting after the fall of the regime?"

They said, "Haven't you read our history? It is what we do every time the regime falls. We go out and we loot. It's kind of what we do. We take revenge on the state".

I mean, you can look at other countries when you take off the top of a totalitarian regime what impact will it have. So there was more knowledge we could have had. I don't think anybody's imagination could have led them to understand Iraq. I mean, there is no literature. There is no Iraqis who could tell you what was going to happen. The exiles were so disconnected from Iraq. Particular people go into exile and they have particular experiences. They are not reflective, and bringing this bunch of exiles back into a county and saying, "These are your new leaders" ...  So these things we could have done differently, but I don't think it was kind of, "Look, there is a right path and there is a wrong path and we took the wrong path". I don't think it's simple like that.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Last chance to look backwards before I ask you about how one should look to the future or indeed to the calculus of the whole period in question, but any other key opportunities that were well taken or badly missed or things that could have been done? You have covered quite a lot of that ground.

MS EMMA SKY: I think the bigger thing in terms of the bigger strategy, bigger policy was, you know, Israel/Palestine, because you can question why we went in. You can question all of that, but to show the sincerity, it really show, "Okay. We are trying to shape the new Middle East", people there, people in the region, it matters to them, and you can't just disconnect these issues. If we are sincere about really wanting to bring democratic systems, to bring freedoms, we have to have a much more coherent policy that will stand up to scrutiny.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: I'm going to ask my colleagues if they have any final calls for reflection before I turn to my final one, which is about how things are going to look in the future. Martin?




SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Well, we saw the election in March last year and the formation of a government or the beginnings of the formation of a government while this committee was visiting a few weeks ago.  Is that indicative of the fragility of the political future in the near to medium term for Iraq or is that just how things go in that kind of place?

MS EMMA SKY: General Petraeus refers to it as "Iraqracy". It has its own uniqueness. It was a very, very good election event, and we saw with the provincial elections, we saw with the national elections all of these people who had been involved in the insurgency, all of these groups we had been dealing with all came in. So that wonderful sense of saying, "Okay. Great. People are going to try politics rather than violence to achieve their objectives", but it is not politics that -- you know, it is so dirty. The rules are not agreed yet.  You know, we have competition for power in our own countries, but we agree the rules. We understand we all abide by these rules, and if you don't abide by the rules, then there's some legal process, but in Iraq those rules -- the rules of the game aren't clear. They are contested. The constitution is contested, and the vision for the state isn't clear. You don't have people who subscribe to the same vision.

So you've got elections in this sort of environment. Through the elections -- a good election event -- Iraqiyya wins by two seats and no one can believe this result. Everyone thinks this is amazing. The Prime Minister obviously is suspicious of the result and believes there has been fraud, and so demands a recount. De-Ba'athification is used to try to take away votes and the international community had to do an awful lot to make sure that those results stood.
Will the international community be there in the future?

The political leaders were absolutely adamant that now was the time to get rid of the Prime Minister, Maliki. "Yes. We all agree we don't want him, but most of us agree it can't be Allawi either". So you end up with okay, they can all say what they don't want, but there's no consensus on what they do want.

Some might argue it was foreign intervention that created this impasse. In the ultimate argument it is foreign intervention that helped bring about a result, certainly when you had Iran supporting Prime Minister Maliki to remain as Prime Minister and the Americans basically having the same, but it was the Iranians who pressurised the Sadrists to agree to Maliki that gave him -- made it inevitable that he would become Prime Minister. Then people say, "Oh, look, the Iranians are so influential America couldn't even get the Kurds to give up the Presidency". So Iraqis always see this battle going on between America and Iran, America and Iran. Of course there is a certain level, but in people's minds this becomes a big issue.

So you haven't got real reconciliation yet. You don't have agreement on the rules of the game. You could say that through our endeavours, through our counter-insurgency approach what we tend to do is build up the power and push down the opposition. So you build up the power of a leader to maintain himself through strong security forces and not necessarily through the consent of the politicians or the consent of the people. Yes, he got the most personal votes, but that was still only 20% of people voted for him. So some people will argue, "Look, you are just putting stability before democracy. This hasn't created the right framework and the right institutions whereby this competition for power can take place peacefully. All it's done is, you know, you've changed the old order, but the new Iraq is beginning to look a bit like the old Iraq but with different people in charge", and this is the challenge with Iraq. You don't know which way it is going to go. There's that current that pulls it back and there's that new opportunity for a different future.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: I'd like to abstain from asking you the question, "What's going to happen next?", because you have already pre-empted it elegantly.  Any other final reflections you'd like to offer us?

MS EMMA SKY: I think after Iraq, after Afghanistan there's going to be this sense of, "Gosh! Mustn't go there again. Mustn't do that again". I think it's important that people stop and reflect. It's not about whether you should intervene or not intervene, but it's how we go about this. It's important that people do understand threats, risks and how to approach them.  So I think there's going to be this sort of, "Oh, it's all our own fault", this sort of whipping that will go on, and ignoring of the threat, and I think we're facing the world in which there are different threats and there is different pressures, and we need to look at how we respond.  So whether we use -- I don't think we'll be sending big armoured brigades overseas again in the same way, but there will still be a need for smaller, cleverer, smarter, less visible interventions. There will still be a big need of using aid, political diplomacy.  Iraq isn't finished. The legacy which way Iraq goes isn't yet clear. So it needs continued international engagement to help it build those institutions, to help train individuals. We have the brightest and best of Iraqis came to the UK over the years. We have a wonderful Iraqi diaspora here. How can they have the opportunities to contribute back to Iraq?  So we mustn't just say, "Finish. Mustn't go there. Cut off. Disengage". I think there is still much that needs to be done to help Iraq using soft power, opportunities for education, opportunities for exchange, and much that we can do in the rest of the world.
There are learnings from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are not all negative.

SIR JOHN CHILCOT: Thank you. I think this has been an exceptional evidence session, analytically penetrating, very illuminating and stimulating too. We are all very grateful to you. Thank you.

MS EMMA SKY: Thank you.

Forward to ...

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
Major General Michael Laurie goes Pear Shaped in Iraq

Photo Credits.

President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown laugh
during their joint press availability Monday, July 30, 2007,
at Camp David near Thurmont, Md. White House photo by Eric Draper
stolent from the White House website
Maps absorbed c/o Wikipedia and google
Emma Sky Photos stolen from Forigen Policy Magzine and University
Liane Saunders taken from Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (University of London)
British Mastiff armoured vehicles on patrol during Operation Charge of the Knights-14
in Basrah City with the UK Military Transition Team (MITT) Group attached to
50 Brigade, Iraqi Army in June 2008.  Crown Copyright
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
Harrison Ford by Georges Biard