TONY Blair has apologised for aspects of the Iraq War, sparking claims of a “cynical spin” attempt ahead of the findings of the Chilcot inquiry into the conflict in 2003.
The former prime minister used a US television interview to express regret over the failure to plan properly for the aftermath of the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the false intelligence used to justify it.
Tony Blair’s comments are plainly the start of a cynical spin operation ahead of the expected timetable announcement for publication of the Chilcot reportAngus Robertson MP
“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” he told CNN.
“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.”
Mr Blair, when asked if the Iraq War was “the principal cause” of the rise of Islamic State, said: ‘I think there are elements of truth in that.”
He added: “Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.”
However, the SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson accused Mr Blair of using “weasel words” shortly before Sir John Chilcot announces a timetable for completion of his inquiry into the war.
Mr Robertson said: “Tony Blair’s comments are plainly the start of a cynical spin operation ahead of the expected timetable announcement for publication of the Chilcot report.
“What we are seeing is that the tapestry of deceit which was manufactured by Labour – the pretence of making an illegal war legal – is unravelling. “Those who lost loved ones in Iraq and all those who protested against it deserve a full and frank account of the decisions which led to the invasion and, as Tony Blair now admits, also led to the rise of Daesh (IS).
“Nobody will be fooled by Tony Blair’s weasel words. With announcement of a timetable for publication of the Chilcot Report expected this week we must finally get the answers that we have waited so long for.”
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, said Mr Blair’s reputation had been tarnished by the war.
He said: “No matter what Tony Blair says or any criticisms there will be of him in the Chilcot Inquiry report, people have long since made up their minds.
“His partial acknowledgement that the military action against Saddam Hussein has made some contribution to instability in the Middle East will do nothing to change public opinion that his was a major error of judgment. The inevitable truth is that Iraq is his legacy and it will be his epitaph.”