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Secret Cabinet memo admits Iraq is fuelling UK terror

London Telegraph / Patrick Hennessy and Sean Rayment | October 29 2006

Tony Blair's claim that there is no link between Britain's foreign policy and terrorist attacks in this country is blown apart by a secret cabinet memo revealed today.

A classified paper written by senior Downing Street officials says that everything Britain does overseas for the next decade must have the ultimate aim of reducing "terror activity, especially that in or directed against the UK".

The memo, circulated in recent weeks to ministers and security chiefs and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, outlines an extraordinary "wish list" of how the Government would like world troublespots to look in 10 years' time. It also signals a drive to reduce Britain's military commitments around the globe.

It admits that, in an ideal world, "the Muslim would not perceive the UK and its foreign policies as hostile" effectively accepting the argument that Britain's military action in Iraq and Afghanistan has served as a recruiting sergeant for Islamist terrorist groups. Publicly, Mr Blair has resisted this line fiercely. During his final speech as leader to Labour's annual conference last month, he described such claims as "enemy propaganda".

His cabinet allies have supported his position. Earlier this year, John Reid, the Home Secretary, said: "I think it is a dreadful misjudgment if we believe the foreign policy of this country should be shaped in part, or in whole, under the threat of terrorist activity, if we do not have a foreign policy with which the terrorists happen to agree."

But the memo leaves no doubt that all foreign policy must be driven by the goal of thwarting terrorism in Britain. It demands a "significant reduction in the number and intensity of the regional conflicts that fuel terror activity".

advertisementAfter a decade, Iraq must have "stable central and local government, accepted by all sectarian groups". Afghanistan must be "stable, democratic, with all territory under central government control".

Israel must have "secure borders" and live in "peaceful co-existence" with its Arab neighbours, while Iran must have a "representative, tolerant government no nuclear weapons" and "no sponsorship of terrorism".

The document concludes: "If all or most of the above were in place, threats from other sources of Islamic terrorism (eg Indonesia, Philippines, Nigeria) would be manageable or on the way to resolution. Any remaining deployments of the British armed forces should be seen as contributing to international stability and security."

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on the memo. However, in an interview, Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, played down suggestions that large numbers of British troops may soon be coming home from Iraq. "I think you're perhaps a little impatient to see a huge change, which I don't think we are yet in," she said.

She acknowledged, how-ever, that Britain and America had failed, before going to war, to predict that "there were huge pent-up hatreds and resentments in Iraq which exploded once Saddam Hussein was deposed".

 

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