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Jeremy Greenstock

THIS WEEK
Jeremy Greenstock
We cannot afford for that country to become an icon of defeat, a motivation for terrorism that will use Iraq as a long-term base against our interests into the future.
Jeremy Greenstock
We asked former ambassador to the UN and former Special Representative in Iraq, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, for his Take Of The Week.

Iraq has become the defining foreign policy issue of the Blair era. But does the United Kingdom have to stay with that issue until the bitter end?

I maintain that the British people does have a stake in a successful and stable Iraq.

We cannot afford for that country to become an icon of defeat, a motivation for terrorism that will use Iraq as a long-term base against our interests into the future.

There is no doubt that Iraq has become a very difficult place. The violence that is erupting is not just a product of enmity against the coalition.

It is also now coming out of the sectarian divisions and the localities with their own militias that have their own ends in their own ways.

Killing their neighbours

Why should this be so in Iraq?

Partly, of course, because the coalition never controlled the security field as it should have done soon after the invasion. But mostly because the politics of insecurity have taken over.

They affect people's minds. We remember from our experience in the Balkans in the 1990s the people in one block of flats in Sarajevo.

They had socialised with each other before the war, but once they felt the intensity of insecurity, they went upstairs or downstairs and killed the neighbours they did not identify with before they themselves were harmed. That is the way that people's demoralisation leads to political collapse.

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Jeremy Greenstock

There needs to be a regional conference

So where do we go from here?

Certainly, the politicians inside Iraq need to work together for a unified country and not for their sectarian interests. They have not been put under enough pressure to do that.

But Iraq also has to be put into its external context. There needs to be a regional conference bringing in the neighbours who all have a voice in where Iraq is going to go in the future.

Something that we owe to the Iraqi people

I understand that the American administration may be reluctant to go down this route, but I would like to see the superpower shaking off the dogs of pessimism and delivering a comprehensive policy that can make a difference in Iraq.

And the British government too has a responsibility; we, after all, have been involved in this enterprise from the beginning.

Its responsibility is to contribute its diplomacy and its thinking into the convening of a conference that can make the difference in Iraq.

That is something that we owe to the Iraqi people whose lives we have so fundamentally changed.

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