The Iraq Commission
About the Show
In 2007, Britain stood at a crossroads. With a change of Government, there was a unique opportunity to examine the future of our commitment in Iraq.
Series 1 Summary
The Iraq Commission was a forward-looking Inquiry examining all possible options for Britain's future role in Iraq. The final report, based on submissions from a wide range of expert witnesses, was delivered to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the main political parties.
Set up by the Foreign Policy Centre in conjunction with Channel 4, The Iraq Commission was an independent cross-party group Chaired by Lord Paddy Ashdown, Baroness Margaret Jay and Lord Tom King.
In Hearing 1, former British Ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer, tells the Commission that the presence of military forces was not worth the life of another British or American serviceman.
Witnesses in Hearing 1 are: Sir Christopher Meyer (former UK Ambassador to the US), Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP (former Minister for Europe), Greg Muttitt (Director, Platform UK), Dr Bassam Fattouh (Consultant Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies), Professor Amitai Etzioni (Director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington University), Oliver Burch (Iraq Programme Manager, Christian Aid) and Mohammed Bali (Iraq Desk Manager Muslim Aid).
In day two of the hearings the Commission receives a strong warning from a former Director of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Andy Bearpark, who claims there's no longer any role for British troops or humanitarian agencies in present day Iraq.
Witnesses in Hearing 2 are: Andy Bearpark CBE (Director General British Association of Private Security Companies; Former Director of Operations and Infrastructure Coalition Provisional Authority); David Horowitz (Editor-in-Chief, Jerusalem Post ); Marion Burch (Director, Medact); Dr Heba al-Naseri (Executive Committee Member, Iraqi Medical Association); Tom Porteous (Director, Human Rights Watch); Noaman Muna (Chairman of Iraqi Al-Amal Association); Ismail Jalili (Chairman, National Association of British Arabs); and Thanaa Al Kinani (Iraqi lawyer and human rights activist).
In day three of the hearings witnesses tackle the issue of Iran.
Witnesses at Hearing three are: Dr Toby Dodge (Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London); Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (Former foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister John Major); Dr Ali Ansari (Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs , Chatham House); Sir Richard Dalton (Former British Ambassador to Iran); Jan de Wilde (Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration, London); and Adnan Dulaimi (Leader of the Iraqi General Council for the People of Iraq).
In the fourth hearing, Britain's former envoy to Iraq says British forces in Iraq should mostly be confined to their bases to avoid becoming dragged into feuds between rival political militias. In contrast, influential US academic, Dr Fred Kagan, criticises the British troops for their 'softly softly' approach and calls for more aggressive patrolling.
Witnesses include: Sir Jeremy Greenstock (Britain's former Special Representative in Iraq); David Horgan (Managing Director of Petrel Resources PLC); Andrew Alderson (Chief Executive, Gulf Capital); Dr Fred Kagan (Military historian and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute); Peter Bergen (Al-Qaeda expert, writer, and terrorism analyst for CNN); Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP (former Conservative Foreign Secretary); and Salama al Khafaji (former member of the Iraqi Governing Council).
In the fifth of the televised hearings, the former US envoy to Iraq, retired General Jay Garner, warns that Iraq is on the brink of a genocidal civil war unless the US changes course and allows the Iraqi people to live in a three-way federal structure.
Witnesses include: Jay Garner (Retired US General, former Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Iraq), HE Dr Sami Khiyami (Syrian Ambassador to the UK); Duncan Bullivant (CEO, Henderson Risk); Ammar Al Shahbander (Iraq Programme Director, Institute for War and Peace Reporting); Sir Menzies Campbell (Leader, Liberal Democrats); Ghassan Attiyah (Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy); and Abdul Samad Rahman Sultan (Minister for Migration and Displacement, Iraq).
Tonight the former head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, says setting a date for withdrawal from Iraq would be "about the worst thing we could do".
Witnesses include: Peter Kellner (President, YouGov); Mike Gapes MP (Chair, Foreign Affairs Select Committee); Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman (Professor of War Studies at King's College, London); Zainab Salbi (CEO and Founder, Women for Women International); Houzan Mahmoud (Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq); and Barham Salih (Deputy Prime Minister, Iraq).
In the seventh hearing, the former Iraqi Finance Minister, Dr Ali Allawi, calls for a timetable for withdrawal as the military efforts of the Coalition should be replaced with an international diplomatic conference.
Witnesses include: Bayan Rahman (High Representative to the UK of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and Chair of the Kurdistan Development Corporation); Simon Maxwell (Director, Overseas Development Institute); James Darcy (Director of Humanitarian Programmes, Overseas Development Institute); Verena Fritz (Research Fellow with the Poverty and Public Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute); Roger Wright (United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Representative for Iraq); and Tom Hardie-Forsyth (Advisor to Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani).
In hearing eight, the Baghdad Blogger, Salam Pax, sheds light on what daily life in Baghdad was like for ordinary Iraqis and warns that Iraq is becoming an Islamist state.
Hearing eight witnesses: Salam Abdul-Munem (aka "Salam Pax", Baghdad-based Iraqi architect, blogger, translator and journalist); Brendan O'Leary (Lauder Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania); Tim Finch (Refugee Council); George Graham (Advocacy and Policy Officer, International Rescue Committee); and Patrick Seale (British writer, journalist and consultant on Middle East affairs).
In this live 90-minute programme, presented by Jon Snow, The Iraq Commission will present its recommendations. The key question: should Britain's policy change? The answers will be compelling. Following the programme, the final report will be delivered to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the main political parties.
The Iraq Commission synopsis
In 2007, Britain stood at a crossroads. With a change of Government, there was a unique opportunity to examine the future of our commitment in Iraq.Episode Guide >