Iraq and Syria: Diplomatic Assistance

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Defence) 12:00 am, 22nd November 2016

What role he plans that the UK will play in providing diplomatic assistance to help rebuild communities in Iraq and Syria.

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We will continue to support the Government of Iraq to deliver the reforms and reconciliation needed to build public trust and unite all Iraq’s communities against extremism. In Syria, we continue to work in support of a lasting settlement based on transition away from Assad, and towards a stable and peaceful future for Syria.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Defence)

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but in light of what happened in Libya, when a failure to plan for the future plunged the country and the region into absolute chaos, will he tell me what lessons the UK learned from that experience and what his Department is doing to ensure a very different outcome in Iraq and Syria?

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

As the hon. Gentleman can imagine, a huge amount of work is going on now, particularly with respect to Mosul as I told the House at the previous Foreign Office questions. We announced a commitment to invest £169 million in aid towards reconciliation and bringing communities together. The House must understand, however, that fundamentally it is up to the Government of Iraq to work in a way that brings communities together, and builds trust and confidence in the people of Mosul and other parts of the country.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

What knowledge does the Foreign Secretary have of any plan for the political administration of Mosul after it is recaptured from Daesh, and what confidence does he have in any plan?

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

A huge body of work is being carried out at the moment, with the UN and the 68-nation coalition, to ensure that we have in place an administration that commands the confidence of all the people of Mosul. It will not be easy. The House understands perfectly well the problem—the forces set on liberating Mosul do not necessarily reflect the communities of that city. It will be a huge, huge challenge, but, as I said just now, that challenge must be met by the Government of Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqis.

Photo of Steven Paterson Steven Paterson Scottish National Party, Stirling

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently warned that medical facilities, especially trauma capacity, were being overwhelmed by civilian casualties in Mosul. What support are the UK Government offering to people trapped on the ground in that city by fighting on all sides?

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

As the liberating forces progress through the suburbs, we are ensuring that there are avenues out of the city and camps available for those who need to take refuge, but clearly this is a very delicate matter, and we are investing considerable sums in ensuring adequate protection.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon

The Foreign Secretary rightly talks about the challenges of post-Daesh Mosul. I would like to mention on the record the excellent work that our ambassador, Frank Baker, is doing on politics beyond Daesh. Will my right hon. Friend make available to Frank and his team all the resources necessary to ensure we get the peace beyond Daesh right in Mosul?

Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

My hon. Friend and I of course travelled to see Frank Baker a while ago, so we know what excellent work he does, and he has a very large team in Baghdad. It is a superb team and a real tribute to the work of the Foreign Office. As I say, they are working very hard to minimise the fallout from the liberation of Mosul and to ensure a peaceful and stable future for that city.