Americans sidelined British effort in Iraq: British diplomat

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London, Dec. 16 (ANI): British officials sent to run the newly liberated Iraq in 2003 found themselves sidelined by American authorities, under-resourced and answering to impossible requests from Downing Street, the most senior British diplomat in the Iraqi interim authority told the Iraq inquiry yesterday.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was the most senior British diplomat in Iraq in the first six months after the invasion, when he served as the deputy head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, said that despite committing an entire British Army division to the Iraq war, Britain had negligible influence on the course of events after the fighting ended.

"In British terms it was an enormous expedition. It was a well-executed job that the British did in the south east [around Basra] but in doing that job in the south east we added very little to what the coalition as a whole was doing in the rest of Iraq," The Times quoted Sir Greenstock, as saying.

British officials discovered that their views carried little weight.

"We were having to follow the Americans in almost everything that we did and we could not achieve the filling of gaps where we perceived gaps, unless the Americans did most of the heavy lifting in that respect," he said.

Sir Jeremy, who was based in Baghdad from September 2003 until the following March, said that mission suffered "catastrophic success" when the Iraqi Army collapsed far more quickly than the negligible Western planning for its aftermath had anticipated.

There was also limited enthusiasm to help on the part of United Nations officials and Western governments at what they deemed a British and American-inspired problem.

"When I talked to other members of the American team, when I talked informally to the military, to the intelligence agencies, to other people who were operating, I found a very much more gloomy prognosis of what was going on than I felt or understood Bremer was reporting back to the Pentagon," he said.

Sir Jeremy went on: "The whole American effort was compartmentalised, stovepiped. The military and civilian arms were not working well together. There were differences between military and civilians. There were differences of view between the Pentagon and State Department. These were all being played out as we were trying to administer a country. There were also differences between London and Washington."

Reporting to his own political masters, Sir Jeremy appeared to criticise Tony Blair's grasp of the situation on the ground.

Sir Jeremy said in later testimony that six years after the invasion the Iraqi police remain a problem. (ANI)

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