Daily archives: August 3, 2006

‘Policies will lead to more terror’

By Daniel Bardsley in GulfNews.com

Dubai: A rebellious former British Ambassador has described his country’s foreign policy as “appalling” and predicted it will lead to more terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom.

Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, called on Britain to align itself with Europe rather than the United States, saying Tony Blair was “completely out of step”.

Murray, 47, was removed from his post in 2004 after criticising the West’s support for Islam Karimov, the Uzbek leader accused of human rights abuses, among them the boiling alive of dissidents. His recent memoir of his time in Uzbekistan, Murder in Samarkand, has hit bookstores in the UAE and is being reprinted following strong demand.

In a telephone interview with Gulf News from London, Murray said: “Britain should return to being in line with European policy. European policy in the Middle East was respected. We’ve lost that respect.

“With Lebanon, it’s so obvious that it’s only the UK and the US standing in the way of an immediate ceasefire. The idea that we should prevent a ceasefire and allow the Israelis to kill as many Lebanese as possible is appalling.

“The government is completely out of step and sadly it will lead to a lot more terrorist attacks in the UK.

“We should coordinate our foreign policy with France and Germany and distance ourselves from the US.”

Murray had postings in Lagos and Warsaw before becoming Ambassador to Uzbekistan when still in his mid 40s. Within weeks of starting his job he decided that the regime was riding roughshod over human rights.

He said a trial of dissidents accused of killing a policeman and being members of an Islamic organisation was like “a Nazi show trial”. “The judge kept shouting and screaming at the defendants and making anti-Islamic remarks. It was really nasty.

“Within 24 hours I received photos of dissidents boiled to death. That was a hell of an eye opener,” he said.

Murray criticised the Uzbek regime in public and to his employers, and a string of disciplinary charges he described as “trumped up” were levelled against him.

He was cleared of the charges, which ranged from sexual misconduct to misuse of an embassy vehicle, but removed from his post after saying that British intelligence officials used information gained by the Uzbek authorities through torture. He resigned from the foreign office, which he said “destroyed my career”.

Later, he hopes to work promoting development in Africa. “I knew [the book] would be controversial. A lot of what it says is stuff the British Government really wouldn’t want to get out. That’s caused a lot of international interest,” he said, adding that a film version is planned, with Steve Coogan playing Murray and Michael Winterbottom directing.

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Who bothers with the monkey if he can go straight to the organ-grinder?

From the Financial Times

Mr Blair should recognise his errors and go

By Rodric Braithwaite, UK ambassador to Moscow 1988-92 and then foreign policy adviser to John Major and chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee

Aspectre is stalking British television, a frayed and waxy zombie straight from Madame Tussaud’s. This one, unusually, seems to live and breathe. Perhaps it comes from the Central Intelligence Agency’s box of technical tricks, programmed to spout the language of the White House in an artificial English accent.

There is another possible explanation. Perhaps what we see on television is the real Tony Blair, the man who believes that he and his friend alone have the key to the horrifying problems of the Middle East. At first he argued against a ceasefire in Lebanon. Then, after another Israeli airstrike killed dozens of Lebanese women and children, he finally admitted, in California ‘ reluctantly, grudgingly and with a host of preconditions ‘ that military force alone would not do the trick, and now seems to have told his people to look for something better.

The catastrophe in Lebanon is the latest act of a tragedy rooted in European anti-Semitism and in the expulsion of an Arab people from their ancestral home. Both sides claim the right to self-defence. Neither hesitates to use force to pursue aims it regards as legitimate. No single event is the proximate cause of the current mayhem ‘ neither the Israeli onslaught on Lebanon, nor the Hizbollah rockets, nor the Israeli assassination of Palestinian leaders, nor the suicide bombings. The causes go back in almost infinite regression. In the desperate pursuit of short-term tactical gain, both sides lose sight of their own long-term interests.


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British ambassador to Iraq predicts civil war and breakup of the country

From the Scotsman

LONDON – Iraq is more likely to slide into civil war than turn into a democracy, Britain’s outgoing ambassador to Baghdad wrote in a leaked diplomatic cable, the BBC reported on Thursday.

William Patey’s final cable from Baghdad gives a far more pessimistic assessment for prospects in Iraq than Britain has disclosed in public. It warns of the prospect of Shi’ite militia forming a “state within a state”, like Hizbollah in Lebanon.

“The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy,” he wrote, according to excerpts quoted by the BBC.

“Even the lowered expectation of President (George W.) Bush for Iraq — a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror — must remain in doubt,” said the cable, sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Describing the main Shi’ite militia, he wrote: “If we are to avoid a descent into civil war and anarchy then preventing the (Mehdi Army) from developing into a state within a state, as Hizbollah has done in Lebanon, will be a priority.”

Patey did, however, also say that the situation in Iraq “is not hopeless”.

The Foreign Office said it does not comment on leaked documents.

“Every day the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to manage their own security is growing,” a spokeswoman said.

The view expressed in Patey’s cable reflects pessimism that has settled among senior Iraqi officials as violence has increased in the three months since a new “unity” government took power.

A senior Iraqi government official told Reuters last month that “Iraq as a political project is finished”, with the capital split into Sunni and Shi’ite districts and officials working to divide control of the country on ethnic and sectarian lines.

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