Tony Blair labelled ‘the world’s worst terrorist’ by relative of British soldier killed in Iraq as Chilcot Report is released after seven-year-long wait.
The UK Iraq Inquiry has found that the UK Government chose to join the 2003 US invasion of Iraq before alternative peaceful actions were fully explored.
The report concluded that former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, undermined the United Nations Security Council majority decision to continue its policy of inspection in Iraq and recklessly based his decision on insufficient intelligence information.
The Inquiry has found that the judgements of the threat posed by the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were presented with a ‘sense of certainty that was not justified’. According to the Chilcot Report, released earlier today, there was ‘no imminent threat’ from Saddam Hussein in 2003.
On 24 September 2002, Mr Blair falsely claimed that at some point in the future the threat posed by Iraq possessing WMD ‘could become a reality’. In its analysis of the intelligence information on which this claim was made, the Inquiry has decided that the assessed intelligence ‘did not conclude beyond reasonable doubt’ that Iraq could or had the capacity to make biological or chemical weapons.
…there was ‘no imminent threat’ from Saddam Hussein in 2003
When Mr Blair’s claim that Iraq possessed WMD, on which the UK invasion of Iraq was justified, was discovered to be false, he backtracked on this argument. Mr Blair told the House of Commons in 2004 that although Iraq might not possess stockpiles of WMD, Saddam Hussein nevertheless had the ‘intent and capability’ to develop such weapons in the future. Mr Blair subsequently claimed that with hindsight there were flaws in the evidence that he had used. Sir John Chilcot has however, in his statement earlier today, argued that the Inquiry ‘[does] not agree that hindsight was required to foresee’ the devastating scale of sectarian violence that was to follow.
The report did not claim that Mr Blair deliberately mislead his Cabinet. However, the Inquiry made clear that Mr Blair gave personal assurances to President Bush of UK support, ‘whatever’ the circumstances, at least eight months before the Iraq invasion and without the consultation of his Cabinet. Chilcot has asserted that Mr Blair seriously ‘overestimated his ability to influence U.S. decisions on Iraq’.
The Inquiry went on to determine that Mr Blair failed to establish any clear ‘ministerial oversight’ of the UK administration of the war in Iraq. Consequently, Sir Chilcot has stated that ‘the planning and preparation for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate’. Mr Blair was even warned by intelligence services that UK military intervention in Iraq would increase the threat of terrorism in the UK.
According to the report, Mr Blair blatantly ignored the legal advice provided to him at the time and went on to use military force despite the legal basis of such action being ‘far from satisfactory’. Mr Blair released a statement earlier today stating that ‘whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.’ Whilst referring to Saddam Hussein as a ‘wellspring of terror’ he pleaded for the British public to recognise that ‘we were in a new world’ following the Al-Qaida terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in September 2001.
…Mr Blair gave personal assurances to President Bush of UK support, ‘whatever’ the circumstances
Mr Blair’s comments are in stark contrast to his fellow Cabinet Minister, Clare Short, who has stated that ‘Blair grossly exaggerated the evidence’ in order to justify UK military intervention in Iraq and that she feels ‘terrible’ for her role in the events leading up to the Iraq War.
The Chilcot Report concludes that UK policy in Iraq was based on flawed intelligence that was not challenged or scrutinised before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and that the UK government ‘failed to achieve its stated objectives’.
Initial reactions to the findings of the UK Iraq Inquiry have been expressed during today’s Prime Minister’s Questions. Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated that the most important factor to be drawn from the report is to ‘learn lessons for the future’ with particular reference to the current events in Libya and Syria.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has labelled the lengthy period of time it took for the Chilcot Report to be published as a ‘matter of regret’ whilst asserting that the war in Iraq ‘has long been regarded as illegal’.
With regards to the families of British service men and women killed in Iraq, one of the victims’ lawyers asserted that ‘the families are saddened to have learned that their loved ones died unnecessarily and without cause’. Sarah O’Connor, a sister of one of the service men killed in Iraq, has labelled Blair as the ‘world’s worst terrorist’, with crowds of protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre calling for Mr Blair to be tried as a war criminal. Sir John Chilcot’s final words on the Inquiry described the report as ‘an account of an intervention that went badly wrong with consequences to this day’.
world’s worst terrorist
Image: Bush and Blair shake hands at NATO summit, June 28 2004.