No, Mr Blair, the world is not safer after Saddam
The fallout from the Iraq inquiry in the Chilcot Report, as it is publicly known, echoed across the world after being revealed by Sir John Chilcot on July 6.
The report from inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the aftermath essentially stated the following:
1)That former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to the interests of the United Kingdom;
2)The intelligence regarding the alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Saddam’s hands was presented with too much certainty;
3)Peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted;
4)The U.K. and the U.S. together undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council;
5)The process of identifying the legal basis for the military action was far from satisfactory;
6)The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the war was unnecessary.
The British prime minister of the time, Tony Blair, who has come under the spotlight once again with the Chilcot report, said he was sorry about the losses of the war but that he would take the same decision today again if he had the power because, he claimed, the world was a safer place after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
First of all, the report itself is a successful example of a working, pluralistic democracy in the U.K. It is no secret that British governments have been trying to stop the public release of the contents of the report since it was commissioned by former PM Gordon Brown in June 2009. The U.S. administration has signaled that the release of it, especially the conversations between Blair and former U.S. President George W. Bush, could harm the strategic relations between the two countries. Yet it appears that Chilcot only agreed to reveal it after the parliamentary elections on May 15, possibly in order to avoid interfering in current politics. It is difficult to think about the establishment of a similar inquiry in Turkey, as well as the release of a similar report, in spite of government pressure.
But no, Mr. Blair, the world is not a safer place after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
On the contrary, the world is a much more dangerous place in which to live with the spread of terrorism to a global scale, putting the lives of every person in every corner of the world at risk.
As a brief aside, one has to recall the answer of then-U.S. Secretary of State and former Chief of Staff Colin Powell to Barbara Walters of ABC TV on Sept. 9, 2005. “My involvement in the invasion of Iraq,” Powell said, “was a permanent blot on my record.” He was certainly referring to his Feb. 5, 2003, presentation to the U.N. about the evidence on Iraq’s arsenal of WMD threatening the Middle East and the world.
The so-called evidence was a piece of information given by a young Iraqi chemical engineer, Rafed Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who had asked for asylum from Germany back in 1999 (because of embezzlement charges). The findings were deemed unsatisfying by the German intelligence BND but were shared with the American CIA in the hectic atmosphere of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. That information was not fully reliable for both the CIA and MI6 either. That “evidence” about the WMD arsenal of Saddam Hussein was also not confirmed by the statements of either Naji Sabri, Iraq’s former foreign minister (who defected to the Americans), to the CIA, or Iraq’s former intelligence chief, Tahir Habbush al-Tikriti (who defected to the British), to the MI6.
But both Bush and his strategic ally, Blair, decided to rely on this information to start the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. Al-Janabi confessed in 2011 that he had simply lied about Iraq’s WMD program, as he was after a Green Card. That’s why Powell (an honorable man who I am pleased to have met personally and talked to about the issue later on) was so embarrassed to be put in such a position by Bush, without knowing at the time that the findings were fabricated in order to justify a war.
Those responsible were no one but the influential names of the Bush administration like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Zalmay Khalilzad, Elliot Abrams and the president’s brother, Jeb Bush, who were among the signatories of a letter by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a group of powerful neo-con Republicans. The group had announced itself on June 3, 1997; on Jan. 26, 1998, they wrote a letter to Democrat President Bill Clinton, pledging support if he moved to overthrow Saddam Hussein of Iraq, which might be an obstacle on the U.S. road to becoming a global power in the 21st century due to its capacity of WMDs.
The PNAC faded out in 2006. Its spokesman, Gary Schmitt, said the neo-con power club PNAC had “already done its job,” since their “view has been adopted.”
By pure coincidence or not, that was the year when Saddam, after being captured by U.S. troops in 2003, was executed on Dec. 30 on the charges of sending Shiite insurgents to death. Earlier that year, following the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of the Iraqi (or rather Mesopotamian) branch of al-Qaeda, Sunni radical groups merged to form the “Islamic State of Iraq” under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Baghdadi is the current leader of the organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), or Daesh with its Arabic initials, which announced its establishment in January 2013 during the civil war in Syria after decoupling itself from al-Qaeda.
Like Taliban and al-Qaeda being the by-products of the U.S.-led projects to counter the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, ISIL is a by-product of the U.S.-led and U.K.-backed invasion of Iraq in 2003. Now terrorists belonging to those organizations, agitated by the most extreme form of religious fanaticism, are threatening the entire world amid a deadly competition with each other.
Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator who oppressed the majority of people in Iraq. But no, Mr. Blair, neither Iraq, nor the Middle East, nor the world is a safer place after Saddam.