Edward Leigh MP: "The Government have alienated the Muslim minority in this country and
throughout the world through their policies on Iraq, in particular, and
Afghanistan, to a lesser extent. It is well known that I voted against
the Iraq war, and I shall not go over that again. However, in the
Liaison Committee over the past year, I have repeatedly asked detailed
questions of the former Prime Minister, and I have also asked the
Secretary of State for Defence what on earth is going on in Iraq.
Answers have not been forthcoming. We have had an answer from a senior serving officer, responsible for thousands of troops, who told a Sunday newspaper that the decision to pull soldiers out of the centre of Basra last month came after commanders concluded that using Iraqi forces would be more effective. He said:
“We would go down there dressed as Robocop, shooting at people if they shot at us, and innocent people were getting hurt. We don’t speak Arabic to explain and our translators were too scared to work for us any more. What benefit were we bringing to these people?”
The article also states:
“British forces have struck a deal with Shia militias to withdraw to a single base at the international airport in return for assurances that they will no longer be attacked.”
The fact is that the invasion of Iraq was a fundamental diplomatic and military disaster. It has given enormous impetus to Muslim extremism and we are still making mistakes there. We are still alienating Muslim opinion. We have got out of Basra and it appears that the only victors there are the Muslim militias. I voted against the war and I think that we should get out as soon as possible.
There are also real dangers facing us in Afghanistan. I know that terrorism is a real problem there, and we should by all means go in there to deal with it. But if we think that we can impose our western liberal values on Iraq or Afghanistan, we are deluding ourselves."