Former UK PM Blair says Iraq crisis not his fault, urges action

Tony Blair tells UK TV that the Iraq crisis would have happened regardless of his actions back in 2003

Former British PM Tony Blair.

Former British PM Tony Blair.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Sunday it was "profoundly wrong" to think that the 2003 Anglo-US invasion of Iraq helped stoke the current crisis and urged the West to take targeted military action there.

In comments likely to anger his detractors at home and abroad who believe his decisions to intervene militarily inIraq and Afghanistan made things worse, Blair told British TV that the Iraq crisis would have happened regardless of his actions.

"You can carry on debating about whether it was right or wrong what we did in 2003 but whatever had been done, you were always going to have a problem of deep instability in the region and in Iraq," Blair told Sky News.

If Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had not been toppled by U.S. and British troops, his government would have been caught up in the same "Arab Spring" uprisings that later shook the region and now be embroiled in a bloody Syrian-style war, Blair said.

Blair spoke out as an offensive by insurgents that threatens to dismember Iraq seemed to slow after days of lightning advances as government forces regained some territory in counter-attacks, easing pressure on the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

Blair, who heads a global political consultancy business, said the West would be pulled into the Iraq crisis whether it liked it or not, urging it to target Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria with the agreement of Arab governments in the region.

"I'm not suggesting we put ground troops in and we do a full scale invasion as we did in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I am saying we are going to have to take an active role in trying to shape events in Syria and Iraq and indeed across the region," he said.

In Iraq's case, that action had to be immediate, he added, saying the selective use of air power was one option.

As leader of Britain's Labour party, Blair won three elections and was in office from 1997 to 2007. But the way he handled the Iraq war and the unfounded claims he and the United States made about the existence of weapons of mass destruction there - their casus belli - proved to be his political undoing.

Speaking from Abu Dhabi, Blair said on Sunday that the West's failure to take military action in Syria was one of the main reasons the Iraq crisis had bubbled up.

In an article on his web site, he said the Syrian conflict had given Islamist extremists a chance to rebuild and get military experience, saying there was a risk the country could become a more dangerous source of terror-related threats than Afghanistan in the 1990s.

He blamed the Iraqi government's sectarianism for the crisis too and said it had failed to use oil money to rebuild the country. Its army was inadequate, he added, questioning whether U.S. forces had withdrawn too soon.

The main reason the West had to intervene in Iraq and Syria was to protect its own security, Blair told BBC TV on Sunday.

"These people, if they are allowed to grow, these extremist groups, in the end they will pose a threat for us within our own borders," he said.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Edward

War criminals like Blair and Bush should be tried in an international court... not roam freely to give crazy statements! These were liars then and are liars now.

Posted by: procan

Dream on Ed, IDD, MarkX Blair or Bush will never see a Court any Court anywhere. Middle East needs to control there own destiney sort out your difference on your own and you will not have Foreign powers calling the shots for you ,right or wrong.

Posted by: IDD

Again FULLY AGREE. When are the two war criminals, Blair and Bush going to be held accountable for their actions?

Posted by: Mark X


Posted by: procan

Keep all western powers out of it . Let the regional powers deal with it, you want it fight for it.

Posted by: Louie Tedesco

Tony Blair should keep his mouth shut and go hide somewhere with his master George Bush. The devastation and suffering these two have brought down on this region is the highest toll in human history. Yet they both now enjoy greater wealth and prosperity than when they were in elected office. No one, no court, to hold them to account. If all mankind had their character, we would revert to stone-age barbarians beating our heads with clubs after having destroyed everything around us. Shame on you both, please keep quiet and stay out of the public eye. Your heyday is long over.

Posted by: Doug

Given that we're all agreed that Western intervention just makes things worse, can we also agree that this region won't start whinging for the Americans to come and 'fix' things? Perhaps the major regional powers, the GCC and Iran, can work together to resolve the issue in Iraq?

Posted by: Jake

They are already working on it. Although the GCC, namely Qatar and Saudi, have other objectives than Iraq and Iran...Let's also throw in a bit of Turkish influence and see where things are heading from here.

Posted by: Ronald

He would say that, wouldn't he, considering he should be facing war crimes because of his malfeasance and love affair with the Bush regime.
Only countries as tragic as Kazakhstan, desperate to buy international credibility, take anything this charlatan has to say seriously/
He is too scared to allow his real conversations with Bush to be put before Chilcott, wonder why.
Anyone who listens to a word this fake has to say has to have their head read, and giving him money to speak at conferences has to be the dumbest use of other people's money.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Saudis face dilemma between size and pricing in debut bond sale

Saudis face dilemma between size and pricing in debut bond sale

Riyadh is under pressure to maximise the size of its international...

How technology is changing the UAE

How technology is changing the UAE

Free wifi in public spaces and remotely monitoring utility use...

Saudis cut wage, benefit bill in delicate pursuit of austerity

Saudis cut wage, benefit bill in delicate pursuit of austerity

Some Saudis appear prepared to accept austerity following the...

Most Discussed