In a stinging attack, UK army chief Gen Richard Dannatt has termed as "naive" Prime Minister Tony Blair's Iraq policy and said British troops should withdraw from the country soon as their presence "exacerbated" security problems there.
Dannatt, who took up his post earlier this year, stated explicitly, "We should get ourselves out sometime soon (from Iraq) because our presence exacerbates the security problems."
Attacking Blair's desire to forge a "liberal democracy" in Iraq, the outspoken General in an interview to Daily Mail published on Friday, said that the Prime Minister's Iraq policies were "naive".
"We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear. As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time," he said.
There was no immediate reaction either from the Prime Minister's office or the Defence ministry on the General's highly unusual comments.
Hours after the publication of the interview, Dannatt spoke to BBC Radio where he dismissed the impression that he was at odds with the Prime Minister. "I see eye to eye with the Prime Minister," the army chief said.
He also said that a "moral and spiritual vacuum" in British society is allowing Muslim extremists to undermine "our accepted way of life."