Tuesday, July 7, 2020
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Britain involvement in Iraq war was a ‘mistake’ – Ex-PM, Blair

Former British prime minister, Tony Blair has admitted there is connection between the 2003 US/UK Iraq invasion and the emergence of Islamic State better known as ISIS.

Mr. Blair has apologised for “mistakes” in the planning of the Iraq war, saying “the intelligence we received” was wrong.

The former prime minister also admitted there was “elements of truth” in the view that the 2003 invasion was the “principal cause” of Islamic State’s rise.

Mr Blair spoke about the war during an interview on US television in which he expressed regret over some aspects of the conflict.

“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” he told CNN in an interview due to be aired later on Sunday.

“I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.”

But Mr Blair said he did not regret ousting Saddam Hussein.

“I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam,” Mr Blair said. “I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he’s not there than that he is there.”

Asked if the Iraq War was “the principal cause” of the rise of Islamic State, the former Labour leader said: “I think there are elements of truth in that.”

He added: “Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.

“But it’s important also to realise, one, that the Arab Spring which began in 2011 would also have had its impact on Iraq today, and two, ISIS actually came to prominence from a base in Syria and not in Iraq.”

His apology has led to claims Mr Blair is trying to “spin” the response to the long-delayed Chilcot Inquiry.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Blair spin operation begins but the country still awaits the truth.

“The delay to Chilcot report is a scandal.”

No date has yet been given for the release of the Chilcot Inquiry’s final conclusions.

The inquiry was established more than six years ago by former prime minister Gordon Brown, who said it would take a year to complete.

Relatives of soldiers killed in the conflict have threatened legal action if a date is not fixed soon.

A spokeswoman for Mr Blair said: “Tony Blair has always apologised for the intelligence being wrong and for mistakes in planning.

“He has always also said, and says again here, that he does not however think it was wrong to remove Saddam.

“He did not say the decision to remove Saddam in 2003 ’caused ISIS’ and pointed out that ISIS was barely heard of at the end of 2008, when al Qaeda was basically beaten.

“He went on to say in 2009, Iraq was relatively more stable.

“What then happened was a combination of two things: there was a sectarian policy pursued by the government of Iraq, which were mistaken policies.

“But also when the Arab Spring began, ISIS moved from Iraq into Syria, built themselves from Syria and then came back into Iraq. All of this he has said before.”

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