But ex-PM insists UK was still right to in­vade Iraq

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

For­mer Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Tony Blair says he will take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for any mis­takes amid the pub­li­ca­tion of the Chilcot re­port on Bri­tish in­volve­ment in the 2003 US-led in­va­sion in Iraq.

Blair none­the­less un­der­scored that the re­port re­leased yes­ter­day sup­ported po­si­tions that he has long held, in­clud­ing that he made no se­cret com­mit­ment to go to war at a meet­ing with for­mer US Pres­i­dent George Bush in April 2002.

Blair high­lights there was no “fal­si­fi­ca­tion of intelligence”, though the in­quiry found the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons “were pre­sented with a cer­tainty that was not jus­ti­fied”.

Blair re­peated his con­tention that it was “bet­ter to re­move Sad­dam Hus­sein” than al­low the Iraqi leader to stay in power. He said: “I do not be­lieve this (Sad­dam’s re­moval) is the cause of the ter­ror­ism we see to­day whether in the Mid­dle East or else­where in the world.”

Re­tired civil ser­vant John Chilcot, the head of Bri­tain’s Iraq War in­quiry, said in his damn­ing re­port that the con­flict was mounted on flawed intelligence, was ex­e­cuted with “wholly in­ad­e­quate” plan­ning, and ended “a long way from suc­cess”.

Chilcot, who over­saw the seven-year in­quiry, said “the UK chose to join the in­va­sion of Iraq be­fore the peace­ful op­tions for dis­ar­ma­ment had been ex­hausted. Mil­i­tary ac­tion at that time was not a last re­sort”.

The 2.6-mil­lion-word re­port is an ex­haus­tive ver­dict on a di­vi­sive con­flict that - by the time Bri­tish com­bat forces left in 2009 - had killed 179 Bri­tish troops, al­most 4,500 Amer­i­can per­son­nel and more than 100,000 Iraqis.

Chilcot said “the peo­ple of Iraq have suf­fered greatly” be­cause of a mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion “which went badly wrong”.

How­ever, he re­frained from say­ing whether the 2003 in­va­sion was le­gal, and did not find that Blair and his gov­ern­ment know­ingly mis­led Par­lia­ment or the Bri­tish pub­lic.

ANGER: Pro­test­ers pos­ing yes­ter­day as Tony Blair and George Bush and (be­low) Blair in Iraq in 2005

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