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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UK troops lacked political advisers in Iraq, says former envoy

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Jan 4, IRNA -- Former British ambassador Oliver Miles has repeated his criticism of the government’s failure to make effective plans in post-Saddam Iraq, saying that UK troops lacked political advisers.

“One obvious failure was the lack of a mechanism for providing the military commander with advice on political and civil matters,” said Miles, a retired career diplomat, who specialised in the Arab world, including service as ambassador to Libya.

“It has long been standard British practice that the staff of a military commander includes a civil affairs or political office, usually staffed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO),” he said.

“Such an office could have avoided a good deal of the disgraceful confusion and ignorance which characterised the post-military phase” in Iraq, the former ambassador said.

His criticism, published in a letter to the Guardian newspaper Monday, comes as the Iraq inquiry revealed chaos in Britain’s planning for the 2003 war and aftermath that was exacerbated by the UK’s one-sided relationship with the US.

Miles said a political office would have been a channel for advice about Iraqi internal and external problems, and for civil advice from the Department for International Development (DfID) and the rest of government on issues like policing, infrastructure and development.

The failure, he suggested, “surely can't be blamed on the US.”

“The top management of the FCO and DfID should be asked whether such a political office was ever suggested,” if there was no documents available to clarify this to the Iraq inquiry, he said.

In 2004, Miles was among 52 retired ambassadors who wrote a joint letter to former prime minister Tony Blair calling for a new approach to Iraq after warning military action must be guided by political objectives and requirements of Iraq itself “not by criteria remote from them.”

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End News / IRNA / News Code 878025



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