In Memory

Harry Barnes, who voted against the invasion of Iraq on every occasion in the Commons, draws our attention to a blog from a now dead young American officer, Mark Daily.
I opposed the American led invasion of Iraq and have been highly critical of its many excesses. These include the abuse of prisoners, a tendency to zap first and to think later, its ill thought overall tactics which show it to be attuned to fighting the wrong type of war, its rip off commercial interests and its anti-trade union bias. But there is another side of this coin.
Nowhere is this better expressed that on the blog of a young USA officer serving in Iraq. It was posted on the blog last October and I have just picked it up from “Harry’s Place”.
Mark Daily was 23 and was killed last week. He was dedicated to trying to stop the type of horror which took place around Baghdad today.

Sinbad and Modern Terrorism

Harry Barnes
makes some very thoughtful points about efforts to counter terrorism and draws on his experience of Northern Ireland as an MP over 18 years.
Operation Sinbad has been functioning in Basra since 27 September, 2006. It aims to root out corrupt elements in the police, whilst providing assistance to rebuild and repair essentials such as schools, hospitals, water systems and electricity supplies. It is led by the Iraqi Security Service supported by British, Danish and other Multi-National Forces; with the rebuilding aspects of the project being carried out by Iraqi engineers.
In the Commons debate on Wednesday, Margaret Beckett drew from a Basra opinion survey taken last month which showed that 92% feel that their neighbourhoods are now more secure, 50% feel that the police service is now effective in protecting their neighbourhoods (up from 32%) and 75% believe that it will further improve this year. 67% believe that the police are capable and professional.
The indications are that Kurds in the north who operate under a great deal of autonomy, overwhelmingly trust and support their democratic institutions and their security system. Many of the Shia in the south are favourable towards the new political set up as it gives them a newly found collective influence and they hope to see trustworthy security and other provisions develop. This is a countervailing force to Iranian influences.
The overwhelming problems remain in Baghdad and its surrounding areas, where terrorism has driven people for protection into separate communities of Sunni and Shia. If Iraq is not to fracture, the removal of terrorism by military and political means in this area is an essential in facilitating the re-integration of communities. The lesson from Northern Ireland might be the Belfast Agreement, but we only reached that stage by containing the paramilitary threats of the likes of the Provisional IRA and Unionist Paramilitary equivalents.
The main question in Iraq is how can we assist the Iraqi Government to overcome the terrorist activities in the Baghdad area and what forces are available for this task, American or otherwise. The problem won’t go away – even if we do.

NDI Remembers Staff Member in Iraq

The National Democratic Institute, which runs programmes to assist civil society organisations, pays respect to those murdered by insurgents in Baghdad: They did not see themselves as heroes, only people doing a job on behalf of a cause they believed in. They were not the enemies of anyone in Iraq; they were there to help. Now, the prayers of all of us at NDI are with them and with their families. We pledge to do everything that is within our power to see that they did not die in vain. We will honor their example, keep alive their memory, and carry on their work.

How the government helps Iraqi trade unions

Commons Answer 17 Jan 2007
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department is providing to strengthen trades unions in Iraq.
Hilary Benn: Under Saddam Husseins regime, trades unions were part of the Ba’ath Party machinery and had very little independence. After the fall of his regime, trades unions effectively collapsed. Trades unions in Iraq are therefore relatively recently established. DFID provides support to trades unions through our Civil Society Fund (CSF) programme. There are two main aspects to this assistance:
training trades union leaders; and
providing a resource centre for trades unions.
DFID-funded training for trades union leaders is conducted through the UK public services trade union, UNISON. The aim is to contribute to the social and economic stability of Iraq by building the capacity of trades unions through the training of a new generation of union leaders. Training has focused on the role of trades unions in the workplace and society; negotiating collective agreements; union organisation; and women’s involvement in the unions.
DFID support for a resource centre for trades unions in Baghdad has been undertaken with the International Centre for Trades Union Rights (ICTUR). The purpose of this project is to establish an independent NGO office to provide information, technical support services, expertise and legal advice to Iraqi trades unions and act as a centre for open discussions between trades unionists and the legal, academic and NGO communities. The centre studies and promotes basic principles of trades union and labour rights throughout Iraq and aims to influence government policies on labour rights and standards.

Britain and the US withdrew Iraqi passport recognition

Britain and the US are no longer recognising existing Iraqi passports. The recognition withdrawal affects many Iraqis living abroad or in Iraq neighbouring countries, including business travellers, students, visitors, family reunion cases and those who need medical treatment. “This inhumane punishment must be stopped, the people of Iraq continues to suffer at every level.” saidJabbar Hasan, director of the Iraqi Association in London.
Recently, Iraqi authority has issued new passports which are only issued in Baghdad with limited availability. With continuing violence in the capital, many people may not be able to travel to Baghdad. In addition to that, its limited numbers will lead to queue jumping culture.
“This is outrageous and unacceptable method of treatment, which undoubtedly affects the livelihood of thousands of people, including children and other vulnerable people.” Said Jabbar Hasan. (Dave Spector)