The political situation remains challenging, with sectarian violence threatening to undermine the Iraqi Government’s efforts to achieve security and national reconciliation.
I welcome Prime Minister Maliki’s commitment to restoring security in Baghdad, which is a vital step in improving the situation in the rest of the country. I also welcome revised US plans to support the Iraqi government, security forces and the reconstruction effort. UK continues to provide its full support.
Neither my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary nor I have received any representations on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (BSAI).
I value the work of the BSAI to maintain links with Iraqi institutions working to secure Iraq’s ancient sites and antiquities. The BSAI is currently devoting its resources to assisting in the rebuilding of Iraq’s heritage. The Government takes very seriously the need to respect and preserve Iraq’s cultural heritage.
Since the Iraqi Interim government re-introduced the death penalty with effect from 7 August 2004, the United Kingdom, together with the European Union, has regularly raised our policy of opposition to the death penalty at the highest level, including with the Iraqi President and Prime Minister. We repeated our view on a number of occasions immediately before and after Saddam Hussein’s execution.
The nature of the security challenge is complex and varies across the country. In some areas, in particular in and around the capital, the security situation is grave, with an unacceptably high level of violence. 80 per cent. of the attacks in Iraq happen within a 30 mile radius of Baghdad. Improving security is the highest priority for both the Iraqi Government and the Coalition. Prime Minister Maliki has recognised that a large part of the solution lies in promoting national reconciliation as well as in military action. We strongly welcome his commitment in this area.
As my right hon. Friends the Foreign and Defence Secretaries have made clear we welcomed the Iraq Study Group’s (ISG) report and broadly agree with its analysis of the security situation in Iraq. However the ISO’s recommendations largely reflect our own strategy for our areas of responsibility and, throughout Iraq, our fundamental objectives remain the same—to boost capacity to deliver security and basic services to the Iraqi people.
It is important to remember that this report was commissioned by and for the US government. Many of its detailed recommendations are particular to US foreign policy and/or conditions in US areas of responsibility in Iraq.
We are not aware of any new production-sharing agreements in Iraq, other than those that the Kurdish Regional Government has signed.
A new national Hydrocarbons Law is in the process of being drafted in Iraq, which will determine what types of oil development contracts may be available in the future.