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Iraq (No-fly Zones)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:48 pm on 26th February 2001.

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Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence 5:48 pm, 26th February 2001

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his support on behalf of the Liberal Democrat party. The legal justification for the patrolling of the no-fly zones does not rest on Security Council resolution 688. That has not been the Government"s position. In terms of humanitarian justification, we are entitled to patrol the no-fly zones to prevent a grave humanitarian crisis. That is the legal justification in international law. It does not rest on resolution 688, although that resolution supports the position that we have adopted.

Were we not patrolling the no-fly zone in the south, the position of the Shias on the ground would be significantly worsened. That is strong justification for the action that we are taking. We have not contemplated withdrawing RAF aircraft, but it is right that we constantly review the operation of our forces, as we constantly review sanctions. We need to ensure that sanctions are effective and are having the consequences that we desire. We recognise that in some areas they are not working as we would hope. It is important that we target sanctions still more effectively against Saddam Hussein"s regime, not against Iraqi people.