‘I apologize:’ Tony Blair admits Iraq war mistakes

His remarks have prompted allegations of an attempted 'spin' ahead of the release of Britain’s Iraq war probe – the Chilcot Inquiry.

His remarks have prompted allegations of an attempted ‘spin’ ahead of the release of Britain’s Iraq war probe – the Chilcot Inquiry.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has apologized for aspects of the Iraq war in an upcoming television interview, British media reported Sunday.

His comments, in a yet-to-be-aired interview CNN that has been reported by the Mail on Sunday, have prompted allegations of an attempted “spin” ahead of the release of Britain’s Iraq war probe – the Chilcot Inquiry.

In the interview, Blair allegedly expressed regret over the failure to adequately plan for the aftermath of the war in 2003, which saw the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

He also reportedly conceded that the Iraq war was partly to blame for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Blair also discussed the false intelligence suggesting the country had weapons of mass destruction, which was used to justify the invasion.

“I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong … I also apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime,” Blair was quoted by the Mail on Sunday as saying.

Blair was asked by CNN host Fareed Zakaria if the war was “the principal cause” of the rise of ISIS, he was reported to have said: ‘I think there are elements of truth in that.”

“Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015,” he added.

‘He’s said this before’

Following the report on Blair’s apology, a spokeswoman for the former PM was quoted by The Guardian as saying: “Tony Blair has always apologized 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.

“He did not say the decision to remove Saddam in 2003 ‘caused ISIS’ and pointed out that Isis was barely heard of at the end of 2008, when al-Qaeda was basically beaten.

“He went on to say in 2009, Iraq was relatively more stable. What then happened was a combination of two things: there was a sectarian policy pursued by the government of Iraq, which were mistaken policies.

“But also when the Arab Spring began, ISIS moved from Iraq into Syria, built themselves from Syria and then came back into Iraq.

“All of this he has said before,” the spokeswomen added.

According to the UK’s ITV News. Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister for Scotland has accused Blair of participating in a “spin operation” to prepare the ground for criticisms that may surface from the Chilcot Inquiry.

Leaked email

Last week, a leaked White House memo allegedly proved that Blair backed military action a year before seeking a vote in parliament.

The revelations focused on a memo allegedly written by former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell on March 28, 2002 to then president George Bush a week before the U.S. leader’s meeting with Blair at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“On Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary,” wrote Powell, in a document the Mail on Sunday published on its website.

“He is convinced on two points: the threat is real; and success against Saddam will yield more regional success,” Powell said, referring to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was eventually ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion.

The Mail on Sunday said the memo and other sensitive documents were part of a batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton which U.S. courts have forced her to reveal.

A separate quote from Powell assured Bush “the UK will follow our lead in the Middle East”, while other statements suggest Blair’s willingness to present “strategic, tactical and public affairs lines” to strengthen public support for the Iraq war.

Blair, who served as prime minister between 1997 and 2007, has repeatedly denied rushing to war. Under his leadership, Britain made the second biggest troop contribution to the Iraq invasion, and British forces were stationed in the country until 2011.


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