Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has indicated that he will not accept the verdict of the upcoming Iraq war inquiry report if it accuses him of committing London to invading the Arab country before he told parliament.
Sir John Chilcot, a former British civil servant, is due to publish his long-awaited inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath into the war on July 6. The Chilcot inquiry report is expected to be highly critical of Blair and other political and military officials.
According to a 2015 White House memo, Blair had agreed to support the war a year before the invasion even started, while publicly he was working to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
The document also disclosed that Blair agreed to act as a spin doctor for former US President George W. Bush and convince a skeptical public that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which actually did not exist.
On Sunday, Blair told BBC he did not think anyone could say he did not make his position clear ahead of the 2003 Iraq war.
When asked if he would accept the Chilcot inquiry report, Blair said, “It is hard to say that when I haven’t seen it.”
“But I think when you go back and you look at what was said, I don’t think anyone can seriously dispute that I was making it very clear what my position was,” he continued.
The former Labour prime minister also said that he would appear on different news
channels and defend himself after release of the Iraq war report.
“The thing that will be important when it does happen is that we have then a full debate,” Blair said. “And I look forward to participating in that. Make no mistake about that. It is really important we do debate these issues.”
Sir John Chilcot (Reuters photo)
The US with strong UK
backing invaded Iraq in March 2003 under the pretext that the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons, however, were ever found in Iraq.
More than one million Iraqis were killed as the result of the invasion, and subsequent occupation of the country, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.
The invasion plunged Iraq into chaos, resulting in years of deadly violence and the rise of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, which was a precursor of Daesh.
Blair has already admitted that he “profoundly” underestimated the complexity of the politics
in the Middle East and the possible turmoil that would ensue following the invasion.
According to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, the Iraq war was illegal and that anyone who had committed a crime should be tried, including Blair, who served as Labour prime minister between 1997 and 2007.
“If [Tony Blair has] committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who’s committed a war crime should be [charged],” Corbyn, who voted and campaigned against the war, said earlier this week.
“I think it was an illegal war, I’m confident about that, indeed [former UN secretary general] Kofi Annan confirmed it was an illegal war, and therefore he has to explain that.”
“Is he going to be tried for it? I don’t know. Could he be tried for it? Possibly,” he added.
Tony Blair (left) and George W. Bush at the infamous March 2002 summit at Bush’s ranch house in Crawford, Texas, where the two men spoke about invading Iraq. (AFP photo)
The Sunday Times recently reported, quoting an unnamed source with knowledge of the Chilcot inquiry report, that Blair “won’t be let off the hook” over reports that he promised to Bush he would support the Iraq war in 2002, a year before the invasion.