Iraq would have been engulfed in a civil war like that in Syria if Britain had not invaded it, Tony Blair has claimed.
The Arab Spring – the wave of pro-democracy uprisings – would have spread to Iraq had Saddam Hussein not been toppled by force, triggering a conflict like that in Syria, the former Prime Minister said. ….Last year saw the highest levels of violence in the country since 2007, and around half a million people have died since the 2003 invasion due to war, according to an academic study published last year.
But Mr Blair said: “Supposing you had left Saddam in place, I think it is reasonably arguable, surely, that you would have had the so-called Arab Spring come to Iraq,” The Daily Telegraph reports.
“If it had come to Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, it was going to come to Iraq and you would be facing what you’re facing in Syria now in Iraq.”
He added: “In the end what we know now, and we can see this very clearly by the way from Libya, is that when you remove the dictatorship, that is the beginning, not the end.”
Iraqis fully appreciate the consequence that April 30 holds this year. Elections are the only vestige of hope the Americans left behind in Iraq, says Dr. Saleh Mutlaq (left), the chairman of the Al Arabia Coalition and deputy prime minister of Iraq.
“Just as Russia today plays an enormous and frightening role in determining Ukraine’s future, so, too, do we increasingly feel the heavy breath of a powerful neighbor, Iran, in so many of the daily events of Iraq, he writes for Foreign Policy’s Democracy Lab:
Since the American invasion, the international community has thought of Iraq in terms of three major groups: the Shiites, who share a sect of Islam with Iranians; the Kurds, who make no secret of their desire for greater autonomy; and the Sunnis, who are blamed by the current constitution for most of the sins of Iraq’s history over the past half-century. ….. This simplistic understanding of Iraq cedes too much power to the modern agents of sectarianism while giving short shrift to the idea of national unity, which the vast majority of Iraqis still share.
For more than a year, Iraqis have also been taking to the streets, compelled by the strong and growing belief that the sectarian policies of the current government have marginalized Sunnis to benefit the more extreme elements of Maliki’s electoral base. Government jobs are given disproportionately to Shiites, especially in the security services. Meanwhile, many Sunnis have been unjustly subjected to “de-Baathification” procedures, labeled as terrorists, and imprisoned without the due process of law. ….
I asked political leaders in Washington to consider attaching conditions on their sale of Apache helicopters and Hellfire missiles to Maliki’s military. Many Iraqis are rightfully concerned that these weapons will used against Maliki’s perceived opponents and political rivals rather than al Qaeda. For this, Maliki’s channel accuses me of treason. …..
Portraying a group of citizens as terrorists is a sectarian policy, and Washington needs to be more careful than it has been in recent years about accepting such characterizations as fact. The unconditional transfer of weapons to Maliki’s security forces implies that the United States endorses his increasingly heavy-handed policies. But the most important message Washington can send (assuming, of course, that its powers-that-be care about the fate of Iraqi democracy), is that the outcome of this election is not pre-ordained. …..
April 30 could well be a tipping point for Iraq. If the will of the people is again denied — as it was four years ago at Iran’s insistence and without objection from the United States — I fear civil war in Iraq will be inevitable. If millions see their ballots fail, bullets may become the only remaining option for those frustrated by democracy’s failure.