War against Terrorism

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 4th November 2004.

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Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 2:30 pm, 4th November 2004

That, alas, has been one of the unintended consequences of the invasion. I, too, have seen reports of not only the bombing of Christian churches but threats to individual Christian families. That is a long way from the vision of those, including ourselves, who invaded Iraq, where the Christian minority was reasonably well protected and people such as Tariq Aziz were in government at the time. I hope that our Government will take full note of what my hon. Friend has said and that they will, as far as they can, talk to the authorities in Iraq to say that we are very keen on human rights generally, and that we are concerned at the threats that have been made to minorities, including the Christian community.

On the United Nations, I ask my hon. Friend the Minister what progress has been made in creating a force to provide security for UN personnel and facilities. That is particularly relevant given the elections scheduled for January. It is highly desirable that those elections proceed on schedule to foster Iraqi engagement and confidence in its political transition. Continued violence can only hinder the validity of that process. Election registration and polling efforts will be key targets for the terrorists, so what are we as an international community doing to assist preparations for the elections? What is being done specifically to provide help and security to UN election workers? It would be a signal triumph for the forces of unreason—the wreckers—if the timetable were not to proceed as hoped for. Although it is clear that there is potential for certain no-go areas to exist—hence the current threat to Falluja—the alternative to a positive outcome in Iraq may be a failed state and regional instability. It is most important that we progress to a legitimate Government who are allowed to make their own mistakes and whom the people see as their own, via the international community.