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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Reaction to leaked Iraq memo
Politicians and military experts have been responding to a warning from a senior diplomat that civil war is more likely in Iraq than democracy.

In a confidential memo sent to Tony Blair, the UK's outgoing ambassador in Baghdad, William Patey, said a "low intensity civil war" and the division of Iraq was possible.

He added the position was "not hopeless" but predicted Iraq would remain "messy and difficult" for the next five to 10 years.

Here is a selection of responses:


The spokeswoman for a group called Women's Freedom in Iraq said: "Would it be normal to hear of barbecued children? Is it normal to hear that 40 workers are kidnapped while going to work just because of the sectarian war?

"This is what we hear every day. This is what we live every day. So it's not the brink of a civil war. We are living it every day."


In a statement, the Foreign Office said it did not comment on leaked documents.

However, it added: "Every day the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to manage their own security is growing.

"A process has begun of progressively handing over responsibility for security in Iraq's provinces."


The former commander of the First Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment in southern Iraq became well known for his rousing speech to his men on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

He said: "It is the fondest wish of some of Iraq's neighbours that the nation would break up and of course the nation of Iraq was created by the British from unlikely bedfellows in 1920.

"But I think that the underlying will of most of, the vast majority of, the Iraqi people is to have a nation of Iraq.

"But we in the West, because we went there with no plan, have done them no favours and if they do succeed it'll be on their own terms. But I'm optimistic"


Mr Temourian said it was not all bad news in Iraq.

"In many areas of Arab Iraq itself there are improvements. One province was handed over completely... by the British Army to the locals and nothing has happened.

"It depends very much on which district you are talking about. In mixed areas, unfortunately the insurgency, together with their Jihadists allies from abroad - foreign Arabs - have put back the programme of reconstruction."


The Conservative Party's head of policy said there should be more honesty from ministers.

"There is a discrepancy between the way the position has been described to us in parliament and to the public in general and what, as I understand it, this memorandum reveals.

"And we now need to have from the government a frank assessment because it's very difficult to offer the constructive support which we want to offer and for the public to understand what's going on if the government doesn't give a very clear and frank account of the assessment."


A former British Ambassador in Baghdad, Sir Harold said there were some optimistic signs.

"The situation is desperate and a lot of us forecast that if we went into Iraq we'd find that having taken the Saddam lid off we'd find a lot of disagreements amongst Iraqis and that's only too true, worse than some of us expected.

"But I think that the security situation is marginally improving. We are handing over provinces - we have handed over one province - to the Iraqi security forces. So there are some signs of hope".


The Liberal Democrats foreign affairs spokesman said the memo was the "raw truth".

"What we have argued is that there needs to be an internationalisation of the peace process in Iraq so that not just the United States and the United Kingdom but a broader spectrum of countries, including the regional players, are actively involved in the security strategy, in the reconstruction strategy, in actually focusing on the human rights and peace within the country."


Mr Bryant, a staunch supporter of the war, acknowledged that there were "enormous problems" in some parts of Iraq, but insisted that civil war was not imminent.

"What we need to do is make sure that the Iraqi government's capacity for security for its own people is increased on a daily basis, so that we can hand more provinces over to the Iraqi government," he said.

"At the same time, (we must) make sure that the Mahdi army doesn't become a state within a state.

"If we aren't able to do these things, then we will have absolutely failed in what we sought to do and what I believed we were trying to do when I voted for war."


Mr Keys took on Tony Blair in Sedgefield in last year's election on an anti-war platform after his son, Thomas, was killed in Iraq.

He said: "George Bush and Tony Blair failed to grasp the enormity of removing Saddam and they didn't realise that Iraq is a fiercely tribal country and has been since Biblical times.

"The impression I get, talking to returning soldiers, is that the task they have been given in Iraq is futile."


Mr Birch is Iraq programme manager of Christian Aid.

He said: "It's difficult to see a future in Iraq that doesn't involve partition. The question is how much violence will accompany that.

"The sad thing is that on a daily basis we are seeing an increase in Iraqis killing Iraqis."

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