‘I’m sorry’: Historic moment Tony Blair FINALLY apologises for Iraq War and admits in TV interview the conflict caused the rise of ISIS
- Former PM makes the confession after 12 years of refusing to apologise
- Blair says he is sorry for his conduct which has now led to ‘hell’ in Iraq
- Says there is an element of truth that the war caused the rise of ISIS
- Comes after Lord Blunkett revealed he had challenged Blair about the war
Tony Blair has finally said sorry for the Iraq War – and admitted he could be partly to blame for the rise of Islamic State.
The extraordinary confession by the former Prime Minister comes after 12 years in which he refused to apologise for the conflict.
Blair makes his dramatic ‘mea culpa’ during a TV interview about the ‘hell’ caused
n the exchange, Blair repeatedly says sorry for his conduct and even refers to claims that the invasion was a war ‘crime’ – while denying he committed one.
Blair is asked bluntly in the CNN interview, to be broadcast today: ‘Was the Iraq War a mistake?’
He replies: ‘I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong.
‘I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.’
Challenged that the Iraq War was ‘the principal cause’ of the rise of Islamic State, he 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.’
In the ‘trial by TV’, respected US political broadcaster Fareed Zakaria accuses him of being President Bush’s ‘poodle’ over the conflict. Blair’s confession comes a week after The Mail on Sunday published a bombshell White House memo revealing for the first time how Blair and Bush agreed a ‘deal in blood’ a year before the invasion.
BLAIR’S ‘APOLOGY’ IN FULL: HOW THE FORMER PM FINALLY ADMITTED MISTAKES BUT STILL REFUSED TO SAY SORRY FOR TOPPLING SADDAM
Appearing on the US TV network CNN Tony Blair was asked directly whether the decision to enter Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein had been ‘a mistake’.
He replied: ‘You know whenever I’m asked this I can say that I apologise for the fact that the intelligence I received was wrong.
‘Because even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people against others, the programme in the form we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought. So I can apologise for that.
‘I can also apologise, by the way, for some of the mistakes in planning and certainly our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you had removed the regime.
‘But I find it hard to apologise for removing Saddam. I think even from today 2015 it’s better that he is not there than he is there.’
Mr Blair was then asked whether the invasion of Iraq was the ‘principle cause’ of the rise of ISIS.
The former Prime Minister said: ‘I think there are elements of truth in that. But we have got to be extremely careful otherwise we will misunderstand what’s going on in Iraq and in Syria today.
‘Of course you can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.
‘But it’s important also to realise – one, that the Arab Spring which began in 2011 would also have had its impact on Iraq today. And two – ISIS actually came to prominence from a base in Syria and not in Iraq.
‘This leads me to the broader point, which I think is so essential when we are looking at policy today. We have tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq. We’ve tried intervention without putting down troops in Libya.
‘And we’ve tried no intervention at all but demanding regime change in Syria.
‘It’s not clear to me that even if our policy did not work, subsequent policies have worked better.’
As well as apologising for the Iraq War, the former Prime Minister also admitted he could be partly to blame for the rise of Islamic State
A 2002 briefing note from US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the President showed Blair had secretly pledged to back the conflict – while telling MPs and British voters that he was seeking a diplomatic solution.
In his CNN interview, Blair candidly asks for forgiveness for his blunder in not realising ‘what would happen once you removed the regime’.
The admission makes a mockery of the statement in the Powell memo that Blair would ‘demonstrate [to Bush] that we have thought through ‘the day after’ ‘ – a reference to the consequences of invasion.
However, the bloody chaos in the region continues to this day. And in a separate development, former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett has revealed that he challenged Blair before the war about avoiding chaos after Saddam’s downfall.
Read more: Daily Mirror UK