During the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, MEPs Niccolò Rinaldi and Ramon Tremosa i Balcells of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) presented a written question to the European Commission and the Council to ask what information is available to these two institutions on the negotiations for the exile of Saddam Hussein before the outburst of the war. Responses are not to be expected for less than six weeks.
The text of the written questions
Subject: Exile for Saddam Hussein in 2003 as a possible alternative to war
In view of:
– the details that have already emerged, in particular from the minutes of the meeting held in Crawford, Texas on 22 February 2003 between George W. Bush and JoséMaría Aznar on the issue of exile for Saddam Hussein, which have been released by the Spanish Government,
– the statements made on 12 February 2010 by Clare Short, the former UK Development Minister, at the Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot, regarding the talks conducted by various Arab states a few weeks before the war,
– the fact that on 5 February 2003 in the UN Security Council a new, significant French proposal, as set out in person by the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, which could have brought the European positions on the liberation of Iraq together, thus providing the sole guarantee of peace, was sabotaged,
– the fact that on 19 February 2003 the Italian Chamber of Deputies adopted, by a large majority, a resolution calling on the Berlusconi government (which said that it accepted it) to promote in all international fora the solution of exile for Saddam, together with temporary administration of Iraq by the UN, as the only alternative to war,
– the fact that the Arab League meeting held on 1 March 2003 in Sharm al-Sheikh to discuss the idea of exile for Saddam was sabotaged by Colonel Gaddafi and, as a result, the live television broadcast was broken off in the Middle East region,
– the fact that on 19 March 2003 George W. Bush and Tony Blair went to war without the authorisation of the UN Security Council, despite Hans Blix's statements to the effect that the Iraqis had become extremely cooperative towards the inspectors since February 2003,
would the Commission say whether:
1. it is aware of the above and whether it would not agree that it should shed light on the events of early 2003 by asking the Member States to set up committees of inquiry along the lines of the UK's Chilcot Committee?
2. it intends to call on Member States to release further documents relating to the outbreak of war and the decision to prefer armed intervention to exile for Saddam?