Blair regrets loss of life in Iraq war
Tony Blair has said he “regrets deeply and profoundly the loss of life” during and after the 2003 Iraq war.
The ex-PM of Britain said his refusal to express regret for the decisions that led to war at his first appearance before the committee had been misinterpreted.
But his words were met with cries of “too late” from the public gallery.
Blair also urged the West to stop apologising for its actions in Iraq and warned of the threat from Iran, during a four-hour grilling by the inquiry.
Asked whether what had happened in Iraq had made the risk from Iran and other countries developing nuclear weapons worse, rather than better, he said: “I don’t think so.”
Blair, who is now a UN Middle East peace envoy, said there was “a looming and coming challenge” from Iran.
“I am out in that region the whole time. I see the impact and influence of Iran everywhere. It is negative, destabilising and it is supportive of terrorist groups. It is doing everything it can to impede progress in the Middle East peace process, and to facilitate a situation in which that region cannot embark on a process of modernisation it so urgently needs.
“And this is not because we have done something. At some point – and I say this to you with all the passion I possibly can – the West has got to get out of what I think is this wretched policy, or posture, of apology for believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing. The fact is we are not.
“The fact is they are doing it because they disagree fundamentally with our way of life and they will carry on doing it unless they are met with the requisite determination and, if necessary, force.”
In a personal statement at the end of his evidence session, Blair said it was never his “meaning or intention” to say he had no regrets about the loss of life in Iraq when he appeared before the Iraq inquiry last January.
“I wanted to make that clear, that of course, I regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life, whether from our own armed forces, those of other nations, the civilians who helped people in Iraq, or the Iraqis themselves and I just wanted to say that because it is right to say that and it is what I feel.” (BBC)