'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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border