London: British government officials drafted the "contract with the Iraqi people" to foster an internal coup against Saddam Hussein two years before the invasion of Iraq, The Independent can reveal.
Britain promised aid, oil contracts, debt cancellations and trade deals once the dictator was removed, as then prime minister Tony Blair`s team saw it as a way of creating a regime change in Iraq even before the 9/11 attack on New York.
The document, headed ‘confidential UK/US eyes’, was finalised on June 11, 2001 and approved by ministers. It is yet to be published by the Iraq inquiry but The Independent has obtained a copy.
During his evidence to the inquiry last week, Blair had said it was only after 9/11 that serious attention was given to removing Saddam as the attack changed the "calculus of risk".
However, another classified document released by the Iraq inquiry on Friday night showed that No 10 explicitly saw the Contract with the Iraqi People as an early tool to remove the former Iraqi dictator.
Sir William Patey, the Government`s head of Middle East policy at the time it was drafted, said: "It was a way of signalling to the Iraqi people that because we don`t have a policy of regime change, it doesn`t mean to say we`re happy with Saddam Hussein, and there is life after Saddam with Iraq being reintegrated into the international community."