16.07.2016 Author: Veniamin Popov

The Disastrous Affair: Thirteen Years Later

353453453453Indeed, there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed.

A report was released on June 06, 2016 about Great Britain’s involvement in the March, 2003 military campaign launched by the U.S. against Iraq, based on the supposition that Saddam Hussein had had weapons of mass destruction in his possession (who could forget the image of Colin Powell holding up white powder in the vial at the United Nations session trying to convince everyone that Iraq possessed chemical weapons). The report was prepared by the Commission headed by Sir John Chilcot (at some point in his life, 77-year old Sir John Chilcot acted as counselor to MI5 and MI6).

Today, after seven years of painstaking study of 12 volumes of documents, testimonies and declassified materials, a conclusion has been made: Iraq did not have such weapons. According to the report, the intelligence services of the U.S. and Great Britain “were badly misled”; they received “false information” and believed it. Saddam Hussein’s military capabilities, especially in respect of weapons of mass destruction, “were exaggerated”. Leaders of the U.S. and Great Britain based their belief that it was necessary to attack Iraq on these “false data.” The decision to invade Iraq “was taken hastily”. The then existing administrations of the U.S. and Great Britain intelligence services (CIA and MI6) are blamed for the ill-considered and ungrounded unleashing of the war.

Though the findings described in the commission’s report are far from being categorical, they send quite a clear message. The decision of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair was ill-considered and erroneous.

“It seemed that it was a very long time ago and somewhere in another world,” wrote Agence France-Presse just a few days ago, “when G. Bush, D. Chaney and D. Rumsfeld, enthusiastically supported by T. Blair, launched a war against Iraq. Thirteen years later, after extensive studies, numerous books and waves of horrible consequences, it is absolutely clear that these leaders fabricated a false pretext to launch an attack on Iraq, and then they failed to properly handle its occupation.”

The invasion of Iraq is a classic example of an imperialist, cowboy affair with the use of weapons and warfare strategies of the 21st century. The initiators of the aggression knew it all too well that Iraq did not have any WMD, yet they needed a pretext to justify their expansionism.

The hazardous affair in Iraq was akin to a destructive explosion that shook the very foundation of the Middle East leading to irreparable destructions and causing awful sufferings to the peoples of the entire region. Its consequences are still tangible.

As a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Saddam Hussein regime was destroyed, and the reins of power were transferred to Shia majority, which had violated the traditional strategic balance of forces in Iraq and throughout the Gulf. Iraq that had been a powerful modern state just some time before was destroyed looted and plunged into the abyss of a bloody fratricidal strife. This is then and there that the poisonous seeds of the notorious ISIS were sown.

Ultimately, all today’s conflicts, wars and standoffs have ensued from this dire cynical affair, for which the peoples of the Arab states are still paying a hefty price. This massacre took the lives of over one million Iraqis. The number of victims in other countries, such as Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, can never be estimated. What units can be used to estimate damages and losses? What about sufferings and hardships of the residents of the region? Can their level be ever assessed?

An unprecedented rise of the threat of terrorism the world is witnessing today can also be blamed on the initiators of the invasion of Iraq.

Even back in 2003, the world sensed that there was something terribly wrong with this campaign. This is when Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan called, using the mild language, the actions of the West “illegitimate.”

For the sake of justice, it should be admitted that the campaign against Iraq was rather unpopular among the British population from the very beginning. The war in Iraq claimed the lives of English, Americans, as well as soldiers from other Western countries. The report raised a storm of indignation in Great Britain, where the movement to try Tony Blair as war criminal is gaining momentum. Members of the families of 179 soldiers who died in Iraq are planning to file a lawsuit against him based on the released report.

What is amazing, though, is that Blair is still trying to justify his actions insisting that the world became a better and safer place as a result of the war in Iraq. The facts indicated in the report, though, testify to the contrary: It was not that great in the reign of Saddam Hussein, but it got much worse after he was overthrown.

The conclusion made in the editorial article published in The Times that “today, the U.S., much more than Great Britain, needs to acknowledge that the state policy can get corrupted by lies and ideology in order to ensure that such thing does not happen again,” appears to be rather accurate.

To complete the picture of the situation, it would be justified to mention that Russian President Vladimir Putin, having learned that the first American missiles reached Iraq, strongly condemned the invasion calling it a “big political blunder.”

French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also criticized the U.S. and UK campaign against Iraq.

And, finally, it would be relevant to familiarize the readers with the conclusion published in The Times on 07/07/2016. “This is not the first time that Russia says, ‘We have told you so.’ In 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, ‘We are much alarmed by the situation in Iraq. We warned a long time ago that the affair the Americans and the English had masterminded would end in disaster.'”

Veniamin Popov, Director of the “Center for Partnership of Civilizations” in MGIMO (U) MFA of Russia, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”