Terror and Chaos

'TWO weeks ago, I was walking between buildings at Westminster and suddenly heard very loud gunshots. I didn’t know at the time, but later found out that some 70 yards from where I was, PC Palmer, an unarmed policeman, was fatally stabbed by British born Khalid Masood. The gunshots I heard were of security forces shooting Masood. Some 5 people in total died, and some 50 others injured.

It was to say the least a tragedy and a shock, but I was also aware that a few days later I was to travel to war torn Iraq, that part of the Middle East that has seen much radicalisation and conflict.

I had been asked to go to Iraq and particular to Iraqi Kurdistan, by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Kurdistan has taken in almost 1.8 million displaced persons. It is seeking to build its own democracy within Iraq, but is under constant pressure from the Iraqi Regime. The capital, Erbil, is only about 40 miles from Mosul, which is the current scene of battles between ISIS/Daesh on the one hand and Kurdistan’s Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army on the other. I was asked to see if I could get the three main political parties in Kurdistan to agree to come to Scotland for discussions on how to build their future.

During my time there, I entered Mosul to see for myself the devastation that is leading to such a huge humanitarian tragedy. I also spoke with hospital staff, United Nations agency staff and landmine clearance groups. I was then able to hold discussions with the political parties from a more informed position.

Iraq war

I was a critic of the adventurism of the Labour Government that took us to war in Iraq on a false pretext. Part of that pretext was that Saddam had chemical weapons. We now know that was not the case and that the motives were very different. You can therefore imagine my horror to find that chemical weapons are now being built by ISIS. I saw the location of some of their evil work.

I have managed to get the Kurdistan political parties to agree on principle to come to Scotland for discussions. I shall be travelling back to Kurdistan therefore to finalise an agenda for their talks in Scotland, which I have been asked to facilitate. It is very clear that they welcome an approach that will not involve lecturing them on what to do, but simply make them aware of our experience of democratic engagement and allow them the freedom to learn lessons for themselves.

Exiting the EU

Besides such events, we have also had this Tory Government triggering the start of negotiations to exit the European Union. It has not been an auspicious start. Even the most enthusiastic supporters of leaving the EU must be aghast at the incompetence of the UK government. Their approach to negotiations seems to be to tell the EU what they must do: A recipe for conflict and failure'.