Iraq insurgence will continue war reporter tells Parliament

Violence in Iraq will continue after government changeover, predicts Hughes


BBC News correspondent Dominic Hughes has told the parliamentary foreign affairs committee that armed resistance is likely to be “a long-running problem” in Iraq long after elections, and the changeover from the coalition government set for 30 June.

Speaking as an expert witness during a session on foreign policy aspects of the war against terrorism last week, Hughes told MPs: “I think that will be a long-running problem, even after the elections.”

Highlighting the continuing vulnerability of foreigners in Iraq, caught between the US-led military and various local insurgents, Eric Illsley, Labour MP for Barnsley Central asked Hughes whether this was likely to be the case “regardless of who is in charge there.”

“Yes. If you take the [Shiite militia’s leader] Muqtada el-Sadr element out of the equation – which it [the coalition] appears to be working on, or at least close to being able to do – that will help things a lot in the southern and central parts of Iraq.”

Hughes added that he believed the Fallujah question was gradually working itself out, but he thought the problems of local insurgence would be present for a long time.

“There are these different conflicts, different difficulties that the coalition faces. If you take them out of the equation one by one, you will probably always be left with this sort of resistance movement.”

Illsley also asked about the treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison and how badly the Iraqi population had reacted to it.

Dubbing it “a disaster for the coalition on all sorts of levels”, Hughes said there was a possible cultural barrier to the west’s understanding of how humiliating the episode had been for Iraqis – both the acts themselves and where they occurred, in a place notorious for torture and killings sanctioned by former leader Saddam Hussein.

Illsley prompted: “The images should have been of our closing that place down as opposed to carrying on the abuses?” Hughes replied “yes”.

The BBC journalist, who left Iraq last month, also spoke of the difficulty involved in reporting that certain aspects of the country had returned to normal. He referred to reports of 37 local government elections that had taken place in one area of Baghdad.

“It is difficult for us, reporting that situation – because people getting on with their daily lives probably will not get on to the 10 o’clock news.

“It is important that we try to reflect that people are getting on with their lives, but when I was there, there was so much ongoing violence, that it was very difficult to find time to do it.”

By Wale Azeez

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