JFP 2/1: ISI officer says Omar ready to break with al Qaeda
Just Foreign Policy News
February 1, 2010
Change.org: End the War in Afghanistan
The vote on funding for military escalation in Afghanistan will be the next major opportunity for Congress to change course. Now is the time to begin establishing "timetable for withdrawal" and "political negotiations" as demands on the supplemental. Help us move these ideas to the center of public discussion.
Support the work of Just Foreign Policy:
1) A former Pakistani intelligence (ISI) officer says Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar is ready to break with al-Qaida to make peace, the Guardian reports.
Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar said Taliban talks could succeed only through direct engagement with Omar. A senior western official said the ISI's co-operation in negotiations was vital - if not to aid negotiations, then at least to prevent the spy agency sabotaging them.
2) India's foreign minister said India is willing to back efforts to seek peace with Taliban to stabilise Afghanistan, Reuters reports. "If the Taliban meets the three conditions put forward - acceptance of the Afghan constitution, severing connections with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and renunciation of violence, and are accepted in the mainstream of Afghan politics and society, we could do business," foreign minister S.M. Krishna said.
3) Many find it hard to believe the US would care enough about Haiti or Honduras to try and control or topple their governments, writes Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian. Unfortunately, the US sees these small, poor countries as pawns on the chessboard of a regional power game, and therefore extremely valuable. Governments that don't maximizing US power, or that might set a positive example of independence, are viewed as a threat.
4) President Obama's new budget forecasts two consecutive years of near $160 billion in war funding, only modestly less than the last years of the Bush Administration, the Politico reports.
5) A US airstrike on an Afghan Army checkpoint on Saturday killed four Afghan soldiers, the New York Times reports. The Afghan Defense Ministry said it wanted those reponsible to be brought to justice. A local official said US Special Forces called in the airstrike. Such episodes are not uncommon, the NYT says; Special Forces units are especially likely to be involved because they often travel in small groups and at night, and they sometimes do not inform regular forces of their whereabouts.
6) The Afghan official in charge of reconciliation said the government had been in talks for some time with Taliban leaders to bring them into the government and end the war, dismissing Taliban denials as designed for media consumption, the New York Times reports. President Karzai has said he would welcome talks with top Taliban figures like its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, but US officials have ruled out talking to Omar, the NYT says.
7) Osama bin Laden's son Omar says Al Qaeda and the Taliban are only allies of convenience and "do not love one another," Reuters reports. "Do not believe what you read about al Qaeda and the Taliban being close comrades," Omar said.
8) Yemen appeared to reject a cease-fire offer from the leader of the Houthi rebels, the New York Times reports. The leader of the rebels issued a statement accepting the government's terms for a cease-fire. But on Sunday, Yemen's National Defense Council said it would cease military operations only after the rebels had complied with those terms, which include disarming, releasing captured soldiers and property, removing roadblocks and withdrawing from strategic positions. Yemeni officials have said the continuing war has drawn resources away from the struggle with Al Qaeda. The war has set off a humanitarian crisis: about 75,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, and many are without food and water, according to the Red Cross.
9) Thousands of protesters from across Japan marched Saturday in Tokyo to protest the U.S. military presence on Okinawa, AP reports. Labor unionists, pacifists, environmentalists and students marched through Tokyo, calling for an end to the U.S. troop presence. The Japanese public is "increasingly vociferous on the U.S. military issue, even outside of Okinawa," AP says.
10) Israel's justice ministry said charges will not be brought against police officers who shot Tristan Anderson in the face, the BBC reports. Anderson suffered severe brain damage when he was shot at a rally in the West Bank town of Naalin. Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard said the Anderson family would appeal the decision.
11) Tony Blair offered British support to join the US in overthrowing Saddam Hussein six months before the 9/11 attacks, the Times of London reports. A March 2001 memo says weapons of mass destruction would be used as a reason to take "direct action" against Iraq. A section of the document titled "Regime change" says it would be impossible for Iraq to meet US/UK "criteria for rejoining the international community" without "fundamental change."
1) Taliban Chief 'Ready To Cut Al-Qaida Ties' For Peace In Afghanistan
Mullah Muhammad Omar 'a good man' and wants peace in Afghanistan, says Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar
Declan Walsh, Guardian, Friday 29 January 2010 18.12 GMT
Rawalpindi, Pakistan - The Taliban leader in Afghanistan, Mullah Muhammad Omar, is ready to break with his al-Qaida allies in order to make peace in the country, according to the former Pakistani intelligence officer who trained him. Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar, a retired officer with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, said: "The moment he gets control the first target will be the al-Qaida people. He wants peace in the country, he doesn't want adventure. He has enough of that."
If accurate, his assessment would be a major boon to western countries scrambling to find a negotiated solution to the Afghan war. Talking to the Taliban was the principal focus of a major conference on Afghanistan held in London this week. But how to divorce the Taliban from its al-Qaida allies who have provided funding, expertise and ideological drive over the past eight years is one of the major headaches facing diplomats and intelligence officers.
Few know the Taliban as well as Tarar, who is sometimes called the "godfather of the Taliban" owing to his pivotal role in fostering the group's emergence during the chaos of Afghanistan's 1990s civil war.
Speaking at his home in Rawalpindi, the 65-year-old downplayed the significance of reports that the head of the UN mission to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, met senior Taliban commanders in Dubai earlier this month for "talks about talks". "The people who went over there didn't have any value. There were no hardcore people from Mullah Omar's shura," he said, citing refugees and "people coming from Afghanistan" as his sources.
Tarar said Taliban talks could succeed only through direct engagement with Omar, the one-eyed leader whom he trained in guerrilla warfare during the 1980s.
Tarar was a key link between Pakistan intelligence and the Taliban when posted to Afghanistan in the 1990s. He was popular with Afghan militants for his enthusiastic embrace of their culture and his shared religious zeal.
The ISI is likely to play a key role in any talks with the Taliban. A senior western official said the ISI's co-operation was vital - if not to aid negotiations, then at least to prevent the spy agency sabotaging them.
2) India softens stand on negotiating with Taliban
Reuters, Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:24pm IST
New Delhi - India is willing to back efforts to seek peace with Taliban to stabilise Afghanistan, foreign minister S.M. Krishna said, indicating a softening of stand towards a group known to be close to rival Pakistan. "We are willing to give it a try," Krishna told the Times of India in an interview published on Saturday.
"If the Taliban meets the three conditions put forward - acceptance of the Afghan constitution, severing connections with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and renunciation of violence, and are accepted in the mainstream of Afghan politics and society, we could do business."
India has sought to retain influence in Afghanistan to deter anti-India militant training camps there - which it accuses rival Pakistan of backing - and to more generally try and counter a militant Islamic surge threatening regional security.
Pakistan, which considers Afghanistan as a fall back position in the event of a war with India, says New Delhi is expanding its presence there to stir discontent inside Pakistan.
3) Why Washington Cares About Countries Like Haiti and Honduras
US interference in the politics of Haiti and Honduras is only the latest example of its long-term manipulations in Latin America
Mark Weisbrot, Guardian, Friday 29 January 2010 19.00 GMT http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jan/29/us-latin-america-haiti-honduras
When I write about US foreign policy in places such as Haiti or Honduras, I often get responses from people who find it difficult to believe that the US government would care enough about these countries to try and control or topple their governments. These are small, poor countries with little in the way of resources or markets. Why should Washington policymakers care who runs them?
Unfortunately they do care. A lot. They care enough about Haiti to have overthrown the elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide not once, but twice. The first time, in 1991, it was done covertly. We only found out after the fact that the people who led the coup were paid by the US Central Intelligence Agency. And then Emmanuel Constant, the leader of the most notorious death squad there - which killed thousands of Aristide's supporters after the coup - told CBS News that he, too, was funded by the CIA.
In 2004, the US involvement in the coup was much more open. Washington led a cut-off of almost all international aid for four years, making the government's collapse inevitable. As the New York Times reported, while the US state department was telling Aristide that he had to reach an agreement with the political opposition (funded with millions of US taxpayers' dollars), the International Republican Institute was telling the opposition not to settle.
In Honduras last summer and autumn, the US government did everything it could to prevent the rest of the hemisphere from mounting an effective political opposition to the coup government in Honduras. For example, they blocked the Organisation of American States from taking the position that it would not recognise elections that took place under the dictatorship. At the same time, the Obama administration publicly pretended that it was against the coup.
This was only partly successful, from a public relations point of view. Most of the US public thinks that the Obama administration was against the Honduran coup, although by November of last year there were numerous press reports and even editorial criticisms that Obama had caved to Republican pressure and not done enough. But this was a misreading of what actually happened: the Republican pressure in support of the Honduran coup changed the administration's public relations strategy, but not its political strategy. Those who followed events closely from the beginning could see that the political strategy was to blunt and delay any efforts to restore the elected president, while pretending that a return to democracy was actually the goal.
Among those who understood this were the governments of Latin America, including such heavyweights as Brazil. This is important because it shows that the State Department was willing to pay a significant political cost in order to help the right in Honduras. It convinced the vast majority of Latin American governments that it was no different from the Bush administration in its goals for the hemisphere, which is not a pleasant outcome from a diplomatic point of view.
Why do they care so much about who runs these poor countries? As any good chess player knows, pawns matter. The loss of a couple of pawns at the beginning of the game can often make a difference between a win or a loss. They are looking at these countries mostly in straight power terms. Governments that are in agreement with maximising US power in the world, they like. Those who have other goals - not necessarily antagonistic to the United States - they don't like.
Not surprisingly, the Obama administration's closest allies in the hemisphere are rightwing governments such as those of Colombia or Panama, even though Obama himself is not a rightwing politician. This highlights the continuity of the politics of control. The victory of the right in Chile, the first time that it has won an election in half a century, was a significant victory for the US government. If Lula de Silva's Workers' party were to lose the presidential election in Brazil this autumn, that would be another win for the state department. While US officials under both Bush and Obama have maintained a friendly posture toward Brazil, it is obvious that they deeply resent the changes in Brazilian foreign policy that have allied it with other social democratic governments in the hemisphere, and its independent foreign policy stances with regard to the Middle East, Iran, and elsewhere.
The US actually intervened in Brazilian politics as recently as 2005, organising a conference to promote a legal change that would make it more difficult for legislators to switch parties. This would have strengthened the opposition to Lula's Workers' party (PT) government, since the PT has party discipline but many opposition politicians do not. This intervention by the US government was only discovered last year through a Freedom of Information Act request filed in Washington. There are many other interventions taking place throughout the hemisphere that we do not know about. The United States has been heavily involved in Chilean politics since the 1960s, long before they organised the overthrow of Chilean democracy in 1973.
In October 1970, President Richard Nixon was cursing in the Oval Office about the Social Democratic president of Chile, Salvador Allende. "That son of a bitch!" said Richard Nixon on 15 October. "That son of a bitch Allende - we're going to smash him." A few weeks later he explained why: "The main concern in Chile is that [Allende] can consolidate himself, and the picture projected to the world will be his success ... If we let the potential leaders in South America think they can move like Chile and have it both ways, we will be in trouble."
That is another reason that pawns matter, and Nixon's nightmare did in fact come true a quarter-century later, as one country after another elected independent left governments that Washington did not want. The United States ended up "losing" most of the region. But they are trying to get it back, one country at a time. The smaller, poorer countries that are closer to the United States are the most at risk. Honduras and Haiti will have democratic elections some day, but only when Washington's influence over their politics is further reduced.
4) War Spending Surges In President Obama's Budget
David Rogers, Politico, January 31, 2010 01:54 PM EST http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/32272.html
President Barack Obama's new budget, to be released Monday, forecasts two consecutive years of near $160 billion in war funding, far more than he hoped when elected and only modestly less than the last years of the Bush Administration.
In 2011 alone, the revised numbers are triple what the president included in his spending plan a year ago. And the strain shows itself in new deficit projections, already hobbled by lagging revenues due to the weak economy.
The budget's increased war funding is not entirely surprising given Obama's decision to add more U.S. forces in Afghanistan. And his early estimates for 2011 in last year's budget were always suspect and more of a "plug" than real.
Nonetheless, seeing everything in a single budget brings the war costs more into focus. Democrats are increasingly agitated by the pace of withdrawal from Iraq, and the combined costs of the two wars is striking - especially when measured against the much more hopeful rhetoric of Obama's campaign.
The president's 2010 defense budget a year ago requested $130 billion for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and just $50 billion in 2011. The new budget ramps up 2010 spending to $163 billion and for 2011 requests $159 billion in overseas contingency funds for the military.
This reverses the drop in war-related spending seen in fiscal 2009, which ended last Sept 30th and was a transition year of sorts between the two administrations. When compared to the peak war spending of the Bush years, Obama is only about 10% below Bush's annual average of $176 billion in fiscal years 2007 and 2008-the time of the Iraq war surge.
The 2011 budget debate won't hit full stride until this spring, but Democrats may move earlier than usual on a supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year.
The Defense Department is seeking $33 billion in additional war-related funding on top of which the State Department will also be receiving additional funds for its beefed up operations in Afghanistan. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House defense appropriations panel, wants to include any requests related to Haiti in the same package, and the VA appears to be pursuing its own 2010 supplemental request in the new budget related to Agent Orange claims.
5) 4 Afghan Soldiers Are Killed By A Mistaken Airstrike
Dexter Filkins, New York Times, January 31, 2010
Kabul, Afghanistan - In a confusing nighttime firefight, an American-Afghan force called in an airstrike on an Afghan Army checkpoint on Saturday, killing four Afghan soldiers and prompting a denunciation from the country's Defense Ministry.
According to American and NATO officials, the firefight broke out at about 3 a.m. on a darkened road in the village of Shinz, west of Kabul. A team of American and Afghan soldiers approached an Afghan Army checkpoint and opened fire, an Afghan official said.
With the firefight under way, the American-Afghan team called in a helicopter gunship to attack the checkpoint. The aerial attack killed the four Afghan soldiers and wounded seven others.
"After the investigation is completed, the Defense Ministry wants to bring those responsible to justice," the ministry said in a statement.
Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the governor of Wardak Province, said the force was a joint Special Forces unit. They were returning from a mission when the shooting broke out, he said.
Such so-called friendly fire episodes are not uncommon; in November, seven Afghan soldiers were killed in a firefight with American troops in Baghdis Province during a search for a missing soldier.
Special Forces units are especially vulnerable to such attacks because they often travel in small groups and at night, and they sometimes do not inform regular forces of their whereabouts.
In Ghazni Province, two Afghan civilians were killed Friday and another was wounded when a group of American soldiers shot their car as it approached a checkpoint near Muqor, NATO officials said. The soldiers shot the car after the driver, traveling at high speed, failed to heed several warnings, NATO said.
6) Afghan Official Dismisses Taliban Denial of Talks
Rod Nordland, New York Times, February 2, 2010
Kabul, Afghanistan - The Afghan official in charge of reconciliation acknowledged Monday that the government had been in talks for some time with Taliban leaders to bring them into the government and end the war, dismissing the Taliban's denials.
The official - Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, a top security adviser to President Hamid Karzai - made the statement at a news conference to discuss last week's international Afghanistan conference in London and later elaborated on his announcement in an interview.
"There are some contacts and these contacts will continue, on the local, regional, national and broader political level, but it's too early to speak about the outcome of these contacts," Mr. Stanekzai said in response to a question on whether the government was in talks with Taliban leaders.
Later, in the interview, he dismissed Taliban denials of any such contacts. "They are continuing to say this, but it's something they say in the media, but this is not a fact," he said.
President Karzai has said he would welcome talks with top Taliban figures like its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar.
American officials, while supporting the Afghan government's reconciliation efforts, have ruled out talking to hard-liners like Mullah Omar, whom they see as too close to Al Qaeda.
Mr. Stanekzai declined to say specifically with whom the government was negotiating. "It's too early to say; it will ignite a lot of confusion," he said. "We need a space for confidence building."
The government is still working out the details of specific proposals to ensure security and jobs for Taliban members who change sides. Once those plans have been revealed, he said, "Then we can talk about this in more detail."
In addition, Mr. Stanekzai said, many of the Taliban leaders were fearful of retaliation from other Taliban members. "We have to respect their safety as well," he said.
At the London conference last Thursday, which brought together 50 allied and donor countries, reconciliation with and reintegration of insurgents was one of the leading topics. President Karzai publicly invited the Taliban to join talks with the government, and said they would be included at a nationwide tribal assembly he has scheduled in six weeks.
Also on Monday, Haider Reza, the director of the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan, which is financed by the United Nations, announced that the Afghan government would not be able to meet its mine-clearing goals because donor countries had not released all the money set aside for the work.
The country has only received $163 million of the $242 million pledged for the program year that begins March 21, Mr. Reza said.
Afghanistan and the international community pledged in 2006 to clear 70 percent of all mines by 2011 and 100 percent by 2013. "I can already now say Afghanistan will be forced to ask for an extension," he said.
7) Bin Laden's son: No "love" among Qaeda-Taliban
William Maclean, Reuters, Tue, Jan 26 2010
London - Al Qaeda and the Taliban are only allies of convenience and "do not love one another," according to a son of Osama bin Laden, who grew up partly in a group of al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. The ties between the two groups are of intense interest because international forces are contemplating talks with the Afghan Taliban to forge a political settlement in Afghanistan and foment a rift between the group and al Qaeda.
Western counter-terrorism officials say they believe al Qaeda leader bin Laden and his mainly Arab senior associates are still based in the remote Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, living under the protection of Afghan Taliban leaders. Capturing or killing bin Laden remains an important goal of Western powers and analysts say the West will seek to encourage the Taliban to view al Qaeda as a dispensable liability.
"Although Al-Qaeda and the Taliban organizations band together when necessary, they do not love one another," Omar bin Laden, 28, said in an interview with Reuters by email. "If there were no more enemies left on earth, I believe they would fight each other."
The al Qaeda's leader's fourth eldest son, Omar bin Laden broke with his father in early 2001 on leaving Afghanistan for the last time. A resident of Afghanistan for much of 1996 to 2001, he is the member of the immediate family who has rebelled most vigorously against his father, who is believed to have about 20 children from various wives.
In a portrayal of allies privately jealous of their independence, Omar bin Laden suggested Taliban-al Qaeda ties would have changed little in the years since 2001 because both the groups were always "happier" with their own members. "Journalists still write stories that my father and (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar are very close and confer with the other."
"I do not believe this. I was by my father's side when he met with Mullah Omar. Although the two form alliances when needed, each is happier with his own organization and the men in that organization. Do not believe what you read about al Qaeda and the Taliban being close comrades."
In "Growing up bin Laden," a book he co-wrote with his mother, bin Laden's first wife Najwa, Omar bin Laden portrays an awkward relationship between bin Laden and Mullah Omar.
Omar bin Laden witnessed a 1998 encounter in which the Taliban leader demanded the al Qaeda chief leave Afghanistan following al Qaeda bombings of East African U.S. embassies that drew U.S. strikes on Afghanistan. In tense exchanges, Osama bin Laden won a reprieve by telling Mullah Omar the demand was "giving in to infidel pressure" and therefore un-Islamic, the book says.
But according to this account, Mullah Omar ended the encounter by refusing to eat a meal bin Laden's men had prepared and did not bid farewell, an insult his father had to accept. "He (Osama bin Laden) could not afford to get into a battle with the Taliban. He would lose, and he knew it," wrote Omar.
8) Yemen Seems to Reject Cease-Fire With Rebels
Robert F. Worth, New York Times, February 1, 2010
Sana, Yemen - Yemen on Sunday appeared to reject a cease-fire offer from the leader of the Houthi rebels, raising fresh questions about a festering conflict that has diluted the government's ability to deal with a growing insurgency by Al Qaeda.
The leader of the rebels, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, issued a statement on Saturday accepting the government's terms for a cease-fire. But on Sunday, Yemen's National Defense Council said it would cease military operations only after the rebels had complied with those terms, which include disarming, releasing captured soldiers and property, removing roadblocks and withdrawing from strategic positions.
Another condition was that the rebels cease all attacks on Saudi Arabia, which lies just across the border from the rebels' terrain in northwestern Yemen, and vow not to attack it again. Last week Mr. Houthi declared a unilateral cease-fire with Saudi Arabia, but Saudi officials have rejected that offer, insisting that the rebels withdraw from the border.
Yemeni officials have said the continuing war has drawn resources away from the struggle with Al Qaeda.
The war has set off a humanitarian crisis that has worsened in recent months. About 75,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, and many are without food and water, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
9) Thousands in Tokyo protest US military presence
Jay Alabaster, Associated Press, Saturday, January 30, 2010; 11:47 AM
Tokyo - Thousands of protesters from across Japan marched Saturday in central Tokyo to protest the U.S. military presence on Okinawa, while a Cabinet minister said she would fight to move a Marine base Washington considers crucial out of the country.
Some 47,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan, with more than half on the southern island of Okinawa. Residents have complained for years about noise, pollution and crime around the bases.
Japan and the U.S. signed a pact in 2006 that called for the realignment of American troops in the country and for a Marine base on the island to be moved to a less populated area. But the new Tokyo government is re-examining the deal, caught between increasingly adamant public opposition to American troops and its crucial military alliance with Washington.
On Saturday, labor unionists, pacifists, environmentalists and students marched through central Tokyo, yelling slogans and calling for an end to the U.S. troop presence. They gathered for a rally at a park - under a banner that read "Change! Japan-U.S. Relations" - for speeches by civil leaders and politicians.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has repeatedly postponed his decision on the pact, with members of his own government divided on how to proceed. Last week he pledged to resolve the conundrum by May, just before national elections.
"The Cabinet is saying that it will announce its conclusion in May. For this reason, over the next few months we must put all of our energy into achieving victory," Cabinet minister Mizuho Fukushima said at the rally, to shouts of approval from the crowd.
Fukushima - who has a minor post in the Cabinet and heads a small political party - wants the base moved out of Japan entirely. Hatoyama's government must appease such political allies to maintain its majority coalition in parliament, and the public are increasingly vociferous on the U.S. military issue, even outside of Okinawa.
"I'm against having troops here. I'm not sure we can get them all out, but at least some of them should leave," said Seiichiro Terada, 31, a government tax collector who attended the rally.
10) No charges for activist shooting
BBC, Monday, 1 February 2010
Charges will not be brought against the police officers who shot an American pro-Palestinian activist in the face, Israel's justice ministry has said.
Tristan Anderson suffered severe brain damage when he was shot at a rally in the West Bank town of Naalin last year. The officers did not have any "criminal intent" when they shot Mr Anderson, a ministry spokesman said.
Mr Anderson, 38, was in a coma for months and can only communicate with basic sounds, friends say.
The case was closed without indicting anyone after an internal police investigation because "there was no proof of criminal behaviour by the police", Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen told the AFP news agency.
Mr Anderson, from Oakland California, was among 400 people demonstrating against the building of the West Bank barrier. The village is one of several places where stone-throwing Palestinian youths clash regularly with police.
Mr Anderson was shot by a riot policeman from between 60-70 m (213ft), it was reported.
The Anderson family's lawyer said Mr Anderson had not been throwing rocks at police, according to AFP. "The demonstration was actually for all practical purposes over," said Michael Sfard, who insisted the family would appeal the decision.
A number of European or American activists have been killed or injured in demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza. Tom Hurndall, 22, was shot by an Israeli sniper in 2003 while at a demonstration in Gaza, he died in Britain nine months later. Rachel Corrie, 23, was also killed in Gaza a month earlier when a bulldozer crushed her.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued an advisory ruling that the barrier was illegal and should be removed.
Only 15% of the barrier follows the Green Line, the internationally recognised boundary between the West bank and Israel.
11) Secret Memo Reveals Offer To Help Topple Saddam Before 9/11
David Brown, Times of London, January 30, 2010
[the memo is here:]
Tony Blair offered British support to join the United States in overthrowing Saddam Hussein six months before the 9/11 attacks, it was revealed last night.
A top-secret Downing Street memo, Iraq: New Policy Framework, says that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction would be used as a reason to take "direct action" against Iraq.
A section of the document titled "Regime change" says: "The UK and US would need to re-make the case against Saddam Hussein.
"We would issue a contract with the Iraqi people, setting out our goal of a peaceful, law-abiding Iraq, fully reintegrated into the international community, with its people free to live in a society based on the rule of law, respect for human rights and economic freedom, and without the threat of repression, torture and arbitrary arrest.
"The contract would make clear the Iraqi regime's record and behaviour made it impossible for Iraq to meet the criteria for rejoining the international community without fundamental change."
It appears to contradict Mr Blair's claims yesterday to the Chilcot inquiry. The former Prime Minister denied that any serious consideration had been given to overthrowing the regime until the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001. However, the two-page memo dated March 2001 makes clear that Britain and the United States were preparing to make Saddam's weapons of mass destruction justification to overthrow Saddam.
Just Foreign Policy
Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.