'Too few funds' to rebuild Iraq, inquiry told

Britain’s role in the reconstruction of Iraq after the 2003 invasion suffered from shortages of funding and staff that hampered attempts to restore order, senior Foreign Office officials have said.

Despite declarations that Britain would lead an “exemplary” operation to bring back normality to the area around Basra, in the south of the country, the Chilcot Iraq inquiry heard that the demands of the task soon outstripped the money provided by the Government.

The revelations will heap further pressure on Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry team to call Gordon Brown, who then held the purse strings at the Treasury, to give evidence. A No 10 spokesman said that the Prime Minister has not yet been asked to appear, adding: “It is right that all the appropriate witnesses are asked to give evidence.”

Both Sir Peter Ricketts, a director in the Foreign Office between 2001 and 2003, and Edward Chaplin, then head of the department’s Middle East section, agreed that there was a shortage of the funds needed to carry out Britain’s reconstruction responsibilities in Iraq.

“I think we could have done with more resources to back up the ambition to play an exemplary role,” said Sir Peter, who is now the top civil servant at the Foreign Office. “As the requirement grew I think it outstripped the budget that had been foreseen. I think there was an underestimate of the number of people and the cost of the role that we found ourselves playing.” Asked his view on the problems in dealing with the aftermath of the invasion, Mr Chaplin said: “If your point is that the resources were never provided to make exemplary performance in our area of the south a reality, then you’re right, they weren’t.”

Ministers were briefed repeatedly throughout 2002 that managing post-war Iraq would be a major operation that needed further attention. “We warned ministers that this would be a long period of post-conflict work for the international community,” Sir Peter said. Mr Chaplin said that the need for post-war planning “was flagged up from an early stage” in memos drawn up by the Foreign Office in the Summer of 2002. “There was a risk of being stuck with responsibility for chronic instability.”

The pair described how officials in Whitehall were alarmed at the “dire” failure from the US to plan for the aftermath of the invasion. Mr Chaplin, who became the British ambassador in Baghdad in 2004, said that there was a “blind spot” in Washington over post-war planning. “They had a touching faith that once Iraq had been liberated from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, everyone would be grateful and there would be parties in the street,” he said. The Foreign Office and ministers attempted to warn US colleagues that the view was “extremely optimistic”, but failed to change their plans. “These points were made at all levels, including and up to the Prime Minister talking to President Bush,” Mr Chaplin said. He listed a lack of coalition forces, the exclusion of the Sunni population from positions of power, and a failure to guard arms dumps as key factors leading to a major breakdown in basic law and order.

After the invasion, Sir Peter said that it soon became apparent that the Pentagon’s reconstruction unit, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), was in chaos. Jack Straw raised concerns just a month after the invasion, while Tony Blair returned from a visit in June reporting that ORHA was “was a shambles”.

The inquiry also heard that a “small group of senior officials and military planners” was established in April 2002, almost a year before the invasion, to look at potential military action against Iraq.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine