The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has acknowledged there are “elements of truth” in statements saying the rise of Islamic State was a direct consequence of the US-led invasion of Iraq, but refused to apologize for attacking the country.
“I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam. I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he’s not there than that he is there,” Blair told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. The full interview is to be aired later on Sunday.
Saddam Hussein was a dictatorial ruler of Iraq, who had dragged the country into wars with neighboring Iran and Kuwait and used chemical weapons to quash down the rebellious Kurdish minority.
The US and the UK banded together to invade Iraq in 2003 and oust Hussein from power. The move, which was never authorized by the UN and objected to by many countries, was justified by a claim that Iraq had a clandestine program to make weapons of mass destruction. The claim was later proven to be false and trumpeted up by officials in Washington and London to make the case for war. Blair said he apologized for it.
“I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought,” he said.
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