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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Post-Iraq war decisions made in advance by US, UK inquiry says

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Dec 10, IRNA -- Controversial key decisions on Iraq's new administrative and military structures were made by the US in the weeks after the 2003 invasion, Britain’s former special representative in Baghdad Sir John Sawyers revealed Thursday.

“In retrospect it seems the principal decisions were taken in advance in Washington," said Sawyers, who is now head of MI6 foreign intelligence agency.

But while giving evidence to the Iraq inquiry in London, he also cautiously relied that he could not say there was a "stitch-up" over the banning of top members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba'ath party from the replacement regime.

Sawyers was made Britain’s special representative in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and worked with Paul Bremer, the US diplomat who took over as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority for Iraq.

He revealed that the future of any Iraqi administration and whether Saddam's army ought to be replaced had not been raised as issues by British officials while he prepared to take up his post.

Bremer's decision to ban 30,000 Ba'athists from power in postwar Iraq went "a step further than necessary," Sawyers suggesting after advocating himself the clearing out only 5,000 Ba'athists.

"Bremer was pretty clear that this was pre-agreed Washington policy that this would be the approach," he told the inquiry, which opened last month

The disbanding of the Iraqi army as often been blamed for leaving a vacuum in Iraq that paved the way for the growth of insurgency in Iraq that led to the breakout of virtual civil war in the country with all its bloodletting.

Sawyers also revealed that there was British concern, which he shared, over the style in which US troops in Baghdad patrolled the streets and struggled to maintain security. They had not been able to make the change from fighting to peacekeeping.

"Part of the problem was the posture of the US army in their tanks, in their Darth Vader kit with the wraparound sunglases and helmets and flak jackets and everything else. There was no real rapport between the US army and the ordinary citizens," he suggested.

The former special representative also said he had been "pretty shocked" by Britain's small contribution of staff to running Iraq when he arrived in Baghdad.

On Monday, a senior British officer told the inquiry that he urged former prime minister Tony Blair to delay the 2003 invasion of Iraq because preparations for dealing with the aftermath were not in place.

“I was as honest about the positions as I could be, essentially briefing that I did not believe post-war planning was anywhere near ready," said Major General Tim Cross, who was attached to the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (Orha) set up by the US to manage the aftermath.

Last week, former UK chief of the defence staff, Admiral Lord Boyce also revealed that he and other top British officers found it "very frustrating" they could not carry out logistical plans for the invasion because of fears that the public would assume the war was inevitable.

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End News / IRNA / News Code 835306



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