Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has defied critics of the 2003 Iraq invasion by launching an emphatic defense of the war.
While speaking on CNN, he said that it was “hard to apologies” for removing Saddam Hussein. Iraq might have become like Syria otherwise. The country could have degenerated into civil war easily. He added by saying that even if his policy in Iraq did not work, subsequent policies had worked no better. Blair suggested that it was better that Saddam Hussein was no longer in power.
Blair was commented just before Sir John Chilcot announced a timetable for completion of his inquiry into the war. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the interview as the start of the “Blair spin operation”.
However Blair then went on to apologize for the inaccuracy of intelligence reports in the run-up to war and for poor post-conflict planning. “I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong”, he said. The former Prime Minister also said, “I also apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime”.
But this is of course not the first time has made these points. Tony Blair has said this to Parliament and to the Iraq Inquiry as well.
The former Labor party politician conceded that the rise of the Islamic State militant group could at least be partly attributed to the fall of Saddam Hussein. “I think there are elements of truth in that. Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015”.
Sir John Chilcot’s long-awaited report into the Iraq War is now reaching a conclusion after the inquiry was set up by another former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. No date though has yet been given for its release.
Tony Blair served as the British Prime Minister for two terms between 1997 and 2007. He was earlier the leader of the opposition from 1994.