A leading US expert has dubbed Bush’s progress report a sham, covered by a major lie, which represents desperation in the American Administration.

Prof Scott Lucas from the University of Birmingham has blown apart Bush’s assertion that by fighting al-Qaida in Iraq the allies are fighting those responsible for 9/11.

He said there is a major inaccuracy in Bush’s concept of al-Qaida: “Al-Qaida in Iraq is not the same as bin Laden’s organisation. Al-Qaida in Iraq did not exist in 2001, at the time of 9/11, it did not exist at the time of the so-called liberation of Iraq in 2003.” 

Instead, he said, al-Qaida in Iraq developed from, sometimes foreign, fighters who were not high-level members of the bin-Laden organisation and that in fact at some times al-Qaida have been in serious disagreement with bin Laden’s organisation.

The second fallacy Prof Lucas highlights is Bush’s claim that al-Qaida in Iraq is the major source of instability, violence and disorder in the country. “It’s not. It is a group of a few thousand members carrying out atrocities in the country. There have been far more attacks carried out against other Iraqis and American troops by local Iraqis who oppose the occupation.

“You could remove al-Qaida in Iraq from the equation and it will not make a major dent in the political, military, and economic instability in the country.” 

According to Prof Lucas, Bush’s report yesterday is a sham, for two reasons. “Bush says we’re making progress on eight of the 18 areas, and the areas he points to are relatively minor: constitutional reform, recognition of minority rights.”

Prof Lucas says that the areas where there has not been progress are in those, where six months ago Bush made significant promises: an agreement on oil reserves, major advances in reconstruction, a marked increase in Iraqi security forces, a reconciliation between the Sunnis and the Shia to have a stable government.

“On none of those benchmarks has there been progress since January. On none of those criteria is there likely to be progress.”

Prof Lucas says the progress report is a cover up and that President Bush is playing for time: “He’s spinning for time by sending two of his top advisors to the region on some ill-defined trip. Nothing in what Bush said yesterday points to a stable Iraqi government or stable Iraqi security forces.”

However, says Prof Lucas, Bush does now have a window of opportunity: “In sending Condoleezza Rice and Robert Casey to talk with governments in the region, to possibly bring the Sunni and the Shia and the Kurds together, there is a real opportunity for progress. Without talking to your enemies you’re not going to get an external support for an internal solution.

But in truth, they are no clearer now than they were a year ago on what the way forward is in terms of a solution.”


Notes to Editors

You can download the full audio at: http://www.uscanada.bham.ac.uk/news/index.htm

Scott Lucas is Professor of US and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham.

Prof Lucas is available for interview. Please contact Anna Mitchell on 07920 593946.