Friday, 21 January 2011

Iraq inquiry: Former PM questioned second time

By Hanan Habibzai
The former Prime Minister Tony Blair made his second appearance before the inquiry to defend his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq alongside the United States of America.

Mr Blair defend his decision
His appearance at the investigative panel met tens of protesters – including family members of British soldiers who died in Iraq, raised banners and chanted against Mr Blair.

The protesters including actor Roger Lioyd Pack, Jeremy Corbyn MP and others re-enacted the scenes from the build-up to war, including secret deals between former US president George Bush and Mr Blair, and the timing of the Attorney General.

Tony Blair is back: time for his journey to end in jail, a slogan which repeated by protesters. The evidence has now emerged at chilcot showing Blair Lied to public and parliament about the legality of an attack on Iraq, said Chris Nineham from Stop the War Coalition who organised the protest.

‘’Finally it has been confirmed that the war in Iraq was criminal as well as catastrophic. There is no more excuse for Blair to escape justice ,and certainly no possible argument for him to continue as UN peace Envoy in the Middle East,’’ Nineham added.

Mr Blair, who is currently UN Middle East peace envoy, said his refusal to defined regret for the decisions that led to war at his first appearance before the committee had been misinterpreted.

Inside the inquiry room, the former Prime Minister offered an apology as he concluded his evidence, ‘’ of course, I regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life , whether from our own armed forces or those of other nations ,the civilians who helped people in Iraq, or Iraqis themselves,’’ he said.

The audiences, included relatives of those killed in Iraq war shouted ‘’too late, too late ‘’ as Mr Blair spoke.

Two female members of the audience turned their backs on Blair, and then walked out; an officer brought a handkerchief for another woman when she burst into tears.

An iconic picture of Mr Blair photographing himself with Iraq in flames in the background was projected onto the building opposite the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, where the Chilcot Committee questioned him on Friday, 21 January, where anti-war activists demanded justice to be held to account the war crimes in Iraq.

They shared concerns that Mr Blair may dodge the demonstrators - including family members of British soldiers who died in Iraq.

In his first appearance January last year before the panel investigating Iraq war former Prime Minister urged that before Sept.11 ,2001 he thought ‘’ Saddam was a menace, that he was a threat, he was a monster, but we would have to try and make best.’’

This time, as Mr Blair was questioned, the panel of five released a series of letters and documents detailing the intense discussions inside the British government over how to respond to the perceived threat posed by Saddam.

In a letter to his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, on March 17, 2002, Mr Blair urged ‘’the case should be obvious ‘’ removing the Iraqi leader from power.

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