DT last Thursday << ... The Iraqi government, and the Kurdish regional government, would like to deal with British companies – but are stunned that we are not there in real numbers. Instead, France and Germany are all over them, offering visas for Iraqi businessmen to visit their countries and using their diplomats in Iraq to promote their own industrial interests.
The Iraqis are too polite to say this, but to be blunt, they’d rather do business with the country that helped them out in the worst of times than the ones who just stood by and watched. There may be only one country in the world today where a majority – the vast majority – of the population still support the invasion of Iraq: but that country is Iraq itself. And we should be quietly proud of what we have done for its people. ... >>
The link above is 'playing up'- Full Article therefore follows:
Our troops are leaving Iraq – now our businesses should head there
By John McTernan Politics Last updated: May 19th, 2011
The last British troops are now leaving Iraq On Sunday, the last British troops will leave Iraq; by now, there are only a handful left. True, we will maintain a role in training the Iraqi navy, but this will be the formal end of one of the most controversial military interventions of recent times.
You can be forgiven for not even having noticed that we were still there: in Britain, everything about Iraq is low-key now. Tony Blair’s second appearance before the Chilcot Inquiry attracted dozens, rather than hundreds, of demonstrators. There are still sporadic attempts to generate rage and debate about the Iraq war, but they seem the preserve of cranks and obsessives who can’t move on.
Yet without returning to the rights and wrongs of the intervention itself, it is certainly right to mark the end of our military engagement with a pause for reflection. At the very least, we owe it to the 176 service personnel who lost their lives to draw up an account of what has been achieved.
The first thing to be noted is that our intervention was, by and large, a success. There have been two elections, and strong political figures are emerging. Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, made his reputation when he led the assault that retook Basra from insurgents. It was a turning point in the south of the country, but it also made him into a national political leader, and probably sealed his re-election.
There are still huge security issues to confront, and regular assassinations and bombings, but the fact remains that Iraq is now a successful democracy. However, it is a mark of how the situation has settled down that the political debate has shifted to domestic issues: jobs, health and education. Even though the election last year was very close – with former prime minister Ayad Allawi, the charismatic and tough-minded leader of the Iraqiya Party, falling a handful of seats short of forming a government – the political system held together.
This is, of course, a massive gain for the people of Iraq. But it is also a significant development for the Middle East as a whole. Even before the Arab Spring, creating a new democracy in that region, to join Turkey, Israel and eventually Palestine, was a substantial victory. With the forces of reform rising in North Africa, it becomes even more important.
Iraq was fortunate that it had a template for democracy within its own borders – and again, this was largely thanks to Britain’s efforts. The Gulf War spurred a rising in Kurdish areas to the north of Iraq; and while the no-fly zone patrolled by the RAF didn’t topple Saddam, it certainly protected the Kurds, to the extent that they were able to establish their own parliament, which next year celebrates its 20th anniversary.
I have visited Iraq regularly over the past seven years, and in January, I accompanied a parliamentary delegation to the Kurdish area – following in the footsteps of the Top Gear team, who found it to be as safe and secure as Cheltenham. Indeed, in many ways, it is a model of what a secular Muslim democracy can be. Women’s rights have been recognised. So‑called “honour” killings are investigated as murders. A fatwa has been issued against female genital mutilation – a sign of serious intent, although as Barham Saleh, the region’s impressive prime minister, says, one case is one too many. Women also make up nearly half of all university undergraduates.
Equally significantly, the Kurds are showing the rest of Iraq how minorities should be protected. Having always offered full rights and protection to Christian minorities – Iraq has Chaldean and Assyrian churches which are among the oldest in the world – Kurdistan has become a refuge for those fleeing from persecution in other parts of Iraq. (Hero Talibani, Iraq’s Kurdish first lady, told us of her shock on seeing the bloodshed in a church in Baghdad that had been attacked by terrorists.) Depending on housing and support from the Kurds is not a long-term solution for these Christian minorities, but it is a powerful expression of solidarity.
The final point to reflect on is that in Iraq itself, Britain’s role in the liberation is celebrated. The hospitality of Iraqis is legendary – but over and above the formalities, the bottles of water and the sweet red tea or strong coffee that accompany every meeting, there is a sense of affection for Britain that you feel wherever you go. Professionally, you encounter people dreaming of doing business, generating ideas, flocking to meetings with our consul-general.
But this respect for Britain leads them to ask questions – such as “Where are your companies?” and “Why aren’t they bidding for work with us?” Not only is a massive programme of reconstruction under way, but Iraq offers huge industrial opportunities, of which the oil and gas industries are just the leading edge. With the Tigris and the Euphrates threading through the country, Iraq has rich agricultural land, and a strong manufacturing base – especially in pharmaceuticals – that has long been neglected.
The Iraqi government, and the Kurdish regional government, would like to deal with British companies – but are stunned that we are not there in real numbers. Instead, France and Germany are all over them, offering visas for Iraqi businessmen to visit their countries and using their diplomats in Iraq to promote their own industrial interests.
The Iraqis are too polite to say this, but to be blunt, they’d rather do business with the country that helped them out in the worst of times than the ones who just stood by and watched. There may be only one country in the world today where a majority – the vast majority – of the population still support the invasion of Iraq: but that country is Iraq itself. And we should be quietly proud of what we have done for its people.
It’s good to know that finally our troops are out of that place and I look forward to the same where Afghanistan is concerned. I do wonder if the abolition of the Royal Yacht Britannia as a trading platform has anything to do with our lost opportunities.
The prospect of being kidnapped,held to ransome or killed probably dampened the Brits enthusiasm to go chasing business in Iraq.However grateful the majority of peaceful Iraqis might be for our efforts on their behalf there is still a significant minority who still think there is still mileage in bombings and killings.The Frogs and Jerrys however,were one step(at least) behind us so didn't build up the same levels of resentment and downright hate compared to ourselves and the Yanks.
I am glad we are finaly out of there and surely we were never there to see what business we could arrange for ourselves.We were there to stop Saddam and get his WMD. Ask Tony if you don't believe me.