The Financial Express

Chilcot report: Tony Blair finds himself in the eye of the storm

| Updated: October 18, 2017 05:09:17

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Chilcot report: Tony Blair finds himself in the eye of the storm

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is now facing condemnation for his role in Iraq war. It followed release of a seven-year probe report by an inquiry  committee, headed by Sir John Chilcot, a former British civil servant, on invasion of Iraq along with President George W.Bush of the United States. Tony Blair had gone to war despite being warned that the war could increase Al-Qaeda threat and disrupt regional stability, apart from triggering a civil war. Public hearings on Iraq war took place from 2009 to 2011.  
When the critical report of the inquiry was released on July 06, a big protest demonstration, led by Lindsey German, a founding member of the Stop the War Coalition, called it a 'damning indictment' and mounted pressure for legal sanctions against Tony Blair. The report revealed that Tony Blair had shown solidarity with the US President Bush to topple the regime of President Saddam Hussein when diplomatic options by both the Blair government and the international community to eliminate Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons had not yet been exhausted. The report indicated that a biased argument was placed in the British parliament to support the case for war while there was not enough preparation before invasion of Iraq which cost lives of 179 British troops and led to the death of 165,000 Iraqis. The report also said that there was no post-war plan to reconstruct Iraq. The chairman of the inquiry committee said the UK failed to appreciate the complexity of governing Iraq and did not deploy enough forces to the task of securing the country in the wake of invasion.
 Tony Blair came out to defend his position on July 07 by saying dislodging Saddam Hussein  was a necessity but expressed more sorrow, regret and apology to the British people. During the war, Great Britain lost 9.6 billion pounds.
There have been increasing calls to put Tony Blair in the dock over his role in taking Britain to the deeply unpopular war. The Leader of the Opposition, Labour leader Jeremy Corby said in parliament that Blair had misled the House in the run-up to the Iraq war and apologised on behalf of the Labour Party. The Labour Party leader has suggested to join 30 countries, including Germany and Spain, in the International Criminal Court to prosecute those responsible for crimes of military aggression in Iraq.
Both the US and Great Britain did not join the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Bush in fact withdrew his signature for joining the court which was later signed by President Bill Clinton.
British Prime Minister David Cameroon, who had endorsed war against Iraq as a Conservative member of parliament, has agreed to hold a parliamentary debate on the findings of the Iraq war inquiry.
It was a fact that Saddam Hussein did not pose any threat to the US while the United States, on the other hand, continuously threatened a war against Iraq. Moreover, the UN Security Council did not authorise a pre-emptive attack by the US against Iraq. Permanent members of the Security Council the Russian Federation and China as well as non-permanent member Germany did not agree on invasion.
Consequences of Iraq war are visible today in the entire Middle East from Iraq  and Syria to Lebanon  and Libya in the North Africa. Today, Iraq has practically been split between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant Sunni outfit, has now control over an area of roughly the size of Massachusetts, stretching from Syria's Mediterranean coast to the outskirts of Iraq's capital Baghdad. The ISIS, however, has recently lost some territories but remains a forceful militant group in the region.
The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh.
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