Peter Hoskin

The Tories have their eyes on Iran

The Tories have their eyes on Iran
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You may not have expected anything less, but it's still encouraging to see the new government pay so much attention to Afghanistan. After David Cameron's meeting with Hamid Karzai last week, no less than three ministers have visited the country today: William Hague, Liam Fox and Andrew Mitchell. And Whitehall's number-crunchers are busy trying to find extra money for the mission.

There's a sense, though, that all the attention actually represents an underlying shift in focus. In his interview with the Telegraph today, Liam Fox is surprisingly forthright on Afghanistan, suggesting that our troops won't hang around to fully rebuild the country:

"What we want is a stable enough Afghanistan, able to look after its own security so we can leave without the fear of it imploding ....  We are not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country. We are there so the people of Britain and our global interests are not threatened.”

“You’ve had Ahmadinejad talking about wiping Israel off the face of the map. People here may think that’s hyperbole but there are people in Israel who remember the last time someone said ‘We’re going to wipe you off the face of the map’ and had a damn good try at it ....  Unless we get a sense of urgency into the European Union and other Western countries, there’s a danger that we either end up with Iran with a bomb or a bombed Iran ....  Our policy is always not to rule anything out ... The Iranian regime need to understand that we are serious when we say they cannot become a nuclear-weapon state.”