Darker Days Are Ahead, Warns Our Man in Iraq; Darker Days Are Ahead, Warns Our Man in Iraq on Anniversary of Invasion, Envoy Predicts More Bombings and Shootouts

Daily Mail (London), March 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

Darker Days Are Ahead, Warns Our Man in Iraq; Darker Days Are Ahead, Warns Our Man in Iraq on Anniversary of Invasion, Envoy Predicts More Bombings and Shootouts


Byline: JAMES CHAPMAN

BRITAIN'S envoy to Iraq dealt Tony Blair a serious blow last night as he warned of 'unbelievably bad days' ahead.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Mr Blair's representative in Baghdad, painted a bleak picture of Iraq's prospects on the eve of the first anniversary of the U.S.led invasion.

His timing could not have been worse for Number Ten, coming as officials attempted to highlight coalition achievements in the rebuilding of the country. Sir Jeremy predicted more suicide bombings and devastating attacks that the coalition forces may be powerless to prevent.

'These things are going to keep happening, and it may get worse before it gets better,' he said.

'I think we're going to go on seeing large explosions and unbelievably bad days. They will continue to try to attack on important dates and at important junctures.' Officials fear that today's anniversary, the handover of power to an Iraqi government on June 30, and a major religious ceremony next month are all likely times for attack.

This month alone, suicide blasts, car-bomb attacks and drive-by shootings killed more than 200 Iraqis. Most were civilians.

Sir Jeremy's strikingly gloomy forecast came as Mr Blair's official spokesman insisted real progress was being made in the country.

A total of 100,000 jobs had been created, 2,300 schools refurbished, and 600 clinics re-equipped, he said.

More than 100 newspapers were being published and courts of law had reopened.

'I'm not saying everything is perfect in Iraq. Clearly it isn't,' he added.

'But we now have the interim constitution, the day for the handover of power is there and we are working towards that.

'What we have said consistently in respect of Iraq over the recent months is that the appalling acts of terror by the remnants of the Saddam regime, and terrorist groups, should not overshadow the quiet progress that's being made on the ground in improving the lives of the Iraqi people.' Sir Jeremy confirmed that he will leave Iraq at the end of this month, well ahead of the scheduled handover of power to the Iraqis. …

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