Former British PM apologises for ‘wrong’ intelligence and mistakes in planning of conflict and admits ‘elements of truth’ in claim war led to rise of Isis
Tony Blair has apologised for aspects of the Iraq war, sparking claims of attempted “spin” ahead of the Chilcot inquiry findings.
The former UK prime minister used a US television interview – due to be broadcast by CNN Europe on Sunday – to express regret over the failure to plan properly for the aftermath of the toppling in 2003 of Saddam Hussein and the false intelligence used to justify it.
“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.”
Asked by host Fareed Zakaria if the Iraq war was “the principal cause” of the rise of Islamic State, he was reported by the Mail on Sunday to have conceded: “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.”
Later, a spokeswoman for the former prime minister said: “Tony Blair has always apologised for the intelligence being wrong and for mistakes in planning. He has always also said, and says again here, that he does not however think it was wrong to remove Saddam.