Indian lawyer, Blair’s ex-employer, says Iraq war could have been avoided

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2016 01:09 IST
This January 12, 2009 file photo shows US President George W Bush presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House in Washington, DC. Bush reiterated his belief on Wednesday that the world is "better off" without Saddam Hussein, as a damning inquiry blasted Britain's part in the rush for war with Iraq in 2003. (AFP file photo)

Sarosh Zaiwalla, a senior London-based lawyer who once represented Saddam Hussein and hired Tony Blair in his law firm in the 1980s, believes the 2003 invasion of Iraq could have been avoided if Blair had taken forward a peace offer mediated by him.

Mumbai-origin Zaiwalla wrote to Blair on April 9, 2002, following his talks with the Saddam Hussein regime in Baghdad, where he stressed the importance of the regime accepting international norms and the rule of law. “The futility of conflict and hostile approach to the West was pointed out. I believe that after much soul searching, Iraq leadership responded amenably to my suggestions and after my return, they did send public signals of seeking rapprochement with the West through Britain,” he wrote.

“I believe Iraq would be willing to compromise and agree to resumption of weapon inspections…All of us have a duty to achieve just objectives without shedding of lives wherever possible.”

However, Blair’s office replied on April 22, 2002: “Mr Blair would like to thank you for your kind offer to act as a facilitator, however, he regrets that he is unable to accept.”

Zaiwalla, who has represented India and various international clients, said after the Chilcot inquiry report was released : “The second Gulf War might well have been avoided if there had been a genuine will on the part of those in power at that time to avoid the war and with it hundred and thousands of lives would not have been lost and Europe would not now be facing the refugee problem.”

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