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Tuesday, January 31 2023
World

Tony Blair apologises for Iraq war ‘mistakes’

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Tony Blair has apologised for aspects of the Iraq war, sparking claims of attempted “spin” ahead of the Chilcot inquiry findings.


The former UK prime minister used a US television interview – due to be broadcast by CNN Europe on Sunday – to express regret over the failure to plan properly for the aftermath of the toppling in 2003 of Saddam Hussein and the false intelligence used to justify it.

“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” he told CNN. “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.”

Asked by host Fareed Zakaria if the Iraq war was “the principal cause” of the rise of Islamic State, he was reported by the Mail on Sunday to have conceded: “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.”

Later, a spokeswoman for the former prime minister 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-Qaida 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.”

The Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, accused Blair of starting to prepare the ground for expected criticisms when the long-delayed report of the Chilcot inquiry is finally published.

“The Blair spin operation begins but the country still awaits the truth,” the Scottish National Party leader posted on Twitter. “The delay to Chilcot report is a scandal.”

(Inputs from The Guardian)

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