Plea to help Iraqis escape their isolation

This letter appears in the Guardian on 3rd March.
Your reports indicate that Iraq provides both cause to celebrate and cause for concern as, for example, improvements in security coexist with corruption. Likewise, the growth of an independent labour movement is constrained by continuing restrictions from the Saddam era plus new curbs – their funds were frozen by the Iraqi government in 2005. We now understand that the leaders of the very large Iraqi Teachers’ Union are being threatened with jail if they don’t hand over their assets and membership lists.
Longer term, there is great scope for increasing the Iraqi-British relationship in commercial, cultural and political areas. In three trips in recent years, we found a high regard for Britain in Iraq where English is the second language and whose university and medical training follows ours. After decades of isolation from the rest of the world, Iraqis are most keen to catch up via political training and other exchanges. We appeal to all those who organise such programmes to see how they could include Iraqis.
Dave Anderson MP Lab, Blaydon
Gary Kent director, Labour Friends of Iraq