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Calls for Blair to Face War Crimes Trial Over Iraq Invasion

© AP Photo / Hassan AmmarFormer British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - Sputnik International
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair should face a war crimes trial, according to the left-wing Labour Party leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn. Blair is already facing criticism in a yet-to-be published inquiry into the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Blair has come under increasing pressure over his decision to join US President George W. Bush in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, who had been president since 1979. 

Blair was heavily criticized for releasing a 'dodgy dossier', justifying the invasion, which turned out to be largely plagiarized from unattributed sources. Another document released for the same effect said that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which he could deploy to UK targets within 45 minutes – a claim later withdrawn by the head of MI6, according to a House of Commons statement by Blair’s then foreign secretary Jack Straw.

Blair was further accused of breaking international law because his invasion of Iraq was illegal and did not having the backing of the United Nations. In 2004, the – then – UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, was asked in an interview if it was true that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter. He replied: "Yes, if you wish."

He then added: "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

Labour Party leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn added his criticism of Blair. He told the Newsnight program on TV:

"I think it was an illegal war. Therefore he (Blair) has to explain that."

Blair’s government, in the run-up to invasion, faced down one of the biggest popular uprisings Britain had seen against going to war against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Blair agreed with the US President, George W. Bush’s view that the Iraqi dictator had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against British targets. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a media conference after an EU summit at the EU Council building in Brussels, on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 - Sputnik International
Delay in Releasing Report on UK's Role in Iraq War ‘Immensely Frustrating’

Bush and Blair held private talks, the details of which have been kept confidential, but which – many believe – would lay bare the agreement Blair made with Bush to follow the US into a war for regime change in Iraq and lay Blair open to charges of war crimes.

Chilcot Inquiry Delays

After years of pressure to uncover the deals made between Bush and Blair, the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown caved in to public pressure and called for an inquiry which was launched in July 2009 chaired by Sir John Chilcot. Its terms of reference were to "consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. …. the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned."

Four years after hearing the last evidence, the Chilcot inquiry – which has cost over $16 million – has yet to report. Those who are subject to criticism have been allowed time to read parts of the report and respond to them ahead of publication. Blair’s office has always denied using the process to hold up the publication.

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