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Volume 653: debated on Tuesday 22 January 2019

I spoke to Foreign Minister Alhakim on the telephone on 14 November. I saw him in Rome with President Barham Salih at the end of November, and the noble Lord Ahmad spoke to him in December.

I thank the Minister for his response. Ben Taub reminded us recently in The New Yorker that the murder and rape of women and the brutalisation of children in Iraqi detention camps do not bode well for peace and security. Does the Minister agree that when he next meets his counterparts he should remind the Iraqi state that it should be building peace and reconciliation rather than creating breeding grounds for a new Daesh insurgency?

That is absolutely right. The future of Iraq, which has real possibilities now following the elections some months ago, has to be built not only on the understanding that all communities in Iraq need a share in government and in the development of the country but on human rights, which can be exploited if they are abused. That forms a fundamental part of the future of Iraq. These issues are indeed raised.

A successful economy is vital to secure Iraq’s long-term future and the wellbeing of its people, who have suffered so much. What steps are being taken to ensure that British companies can participate in building that better future?

We have an active and thriving Iraq-UK business council. Baroness Nicholson has been involved for many years in efforts in this area, particularly in the south of the country in Basra. The contracts and opportunities for the rebuilding and the reconstruction of Iraq will be much helped by the international community’s determination to support Iraq and Iraq’s own use of its oil revenues. British companies should be well placed because of their history and expertise.

What dialogue has the Minister had with the Government of Iraq on the rights of Kurdish Iraqis and Kurds across the region?

The Kurdish community is represented through the Kurdish Regional Government, and we keep in regular contact with them. Relationships between Baghdad and Irbil are vital for ensuring that the Kurdish community feels a full part of a united Iraq. Those relations, I think, have been strengthened since the election of President Barham Salih, but the Kurdish people’s future in a united Iraq is fundamental to the future and progress of a united Iraq.

The Government are supposed to provide the House with an update on the campaign against Daesh every quarter. The last I checked, the duration of a quarter is 92 days, but the most recent Daesh statement was more than 200 days ago, so when will we get the next update, or has the policy changed?

Yes, soon. It seems the best possible word to use. The definition of quarter has obviously stretched a little bit too far, but it is important both to keep up the relationship with the House on this and to confirm progress in relation to Daesh across Syria and Iraq, which continues to be vital.