Iraq war in 2003 contributed to rise of Islamic State: Tony Blair
Former British prime minister Tony Blair has apologised for the “mistakes” made in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and said it was partly to blame for the rise of the Islamic State militant group.world Updated: Oct 25, 2015 16:43 IST
Former British prime minister Tony Blair has apologised for the “mistakes” made in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and said it was partly to blame for the rise of the Islamic State militant group.
In an interview to CNN, excerpts of which were aired on Sunday, Blair acknowledged “there are elements of truth” in the assertion that the war caused the rise of IS.
However, Blair insisted he still did not regret the removal of Saddam Hussein as Iraq’s leader as he said sorry over intelligence failings and planning mistakes.
“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong.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,” he said.
The 20003 invasion of Iraq, which was led by the US and backed by the British, resulted in the capture of Baghdad, but arguably led to the rise of IS militants in Syria and Iraq.
“Of course, you can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015,” he said.
“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,” he added, using another acronym to refer to IS.
The comments from Blair, a divisive figure for leading Britain into the Iraq war, come shortly before a timetable for the publication of the much-delayed public inquiry into the Iraq war is due to be announced.
Amid intense pressure to publish from MPs and families of military personnel killed in the war, John Chilcot will write to Prime Minister David Cameron by November 3 saying when the inquiry, launched in 2009, will be completed.
A spokesperson for Blair said of the CNN interview: “All of this he has said before”.
She added: “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.”
First Published: Oct 25, 2015 16:23 IST