Almost ignored by the mainstream UK press and TV, which had earlier devoted much air time and column space to Clare Short, the testimony of UK human rights envoy Ann Clwyd to the Chiilcot Inquiry gives a picture of the genesis of contemporary Iraq that is rather different from the one propounded by the critics of Tony Blair’s policy who are currently so vociferous in the British media. For one thing, unlike many of the media “opinion-formers”, Clwyd obviously knows Iraq and cares about its civilian population, especially the Kurds among whom she has lived and worked at intervals for many years. Instead of focusing on issues from the past, she is concerned for the present and the future of the fledgling democracy that has emerged from years of brutal dictatorship – and like Iraqis themselves she sees an improvement. On police training, for example, she has this to say:
Obviously we have been helping through our police training, through our training of judges —
BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: When you say “our police training” — I was going to come to that — what sort of support have you been giving to them on police training? Because the evidence we have had shows that our kind of model is not necessarily relevant.
RT HON ANN CLWYD MP: They have never actually said that in my hearing. I haven’t heard that from the Iraqis. In fact, they want more of the British. They have always said, I have to say, right from the beginning, you know, “The British understand us. We would like more of the British to come here, and, you know, we don’t want you to go away. We would like more help from you”. That’s why they can’t understand Inquiries like this. The Iraqis always say to me, you know — because weapons of mass destruction was Saddam — “Why are you still operating in this area? What we need is your help and your attention”, and obviously the Iraqis can pay for a lot of things themselves now, but nevertheless they appreciate the guidance that we can give them and we have had police trainers there. We have also had them in round tables.