Accessibility links

British Foreign Aid Secretary Appalled by Iraq Looting

The British foreign aid secretary says coalition forces must do more to control rampant looting in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq.

The head of Britain's international development department, Clare Short, says she is appalled at the level of looting across Iraq. She told British radio coalition troops must intervene immediately. "The occupying powers, which is the U.S., UK [United Kingdom] and Australia, have a duty across the country to keep order, to keep basic humanitarian services in place for civilians and to keep civil administration running. And there must be a much bigger effort to stop all this looting and violence," she said.

In a separate interview from Baghdad, U.S. Marine Captain Joe Plensler said the coalition is appealing for key Iraqi personnel to come back to work to help restore order. "What we are trying to do right now is establish a civil-military operation center here at the Palestine Hotel. The objective of that is to get all professionals and technicians who run the civil infrastructure, the police department, the fire, the medical services, the sanitation department the power, utilities, water," he said. "All those critical key infrastructure pieces to come here and start working with military officials to help get the city back on line."

Regarding Iraq's political future, International Development Secretary Short said the United Nations will have to play a major role. "The nub issue where the U.N. is needed is to bring into being a legitimate interim Iraqi government, rather like the Bonn process bringing in an interim government to Afghanistan," she said. "There's no other authority in international law that can do that."

Her views appear to clash with those of senior American officials and Iraqi exile leaders who say the United Nations mandate in post-war Iraq should be limited to humanitarian relief work.

This was Ms. Short's first major interview since she threatened to resign just before the war, when she had called Prime Minister Tony Blair's Iraq policy "reckless."

Ms. Short did not want to dwell on that dispute, but she conceded she had endorsed the war by remaining in the Cabinet. She said her priorities now are Iraq's humanitarian needs, the Middle East peace process and restoration of United Nations authority in international affairs.