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Tony Blair: We should invade Syria whether the British public wants it or not

Matthew Holehouse

You can’t keep a good war criminal down: Tony Blair cannot resist calling for more war every time he opens his mouth.

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.

Yesterday saw at least 11 people killed in Iraq, as Iraq prepares for its first elections since US troops withdrew. Six men were kidnapped from their homes and executed near the capital, while a suicide bomber rammed a fuel tanker into a police headquarters in the city of Tikrit.

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.

“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.”

Syria’s bloody three-year civil war began when President Assad’s army fired upon protesters seeking democratic and economic reform, as part of a series of protest movements across North Africa.

Asked about the death toll in Iraq, Mr Blair said: “First of all you’ve got to look at how these people are dying and who’s killing them. I mean these people are being killed by sectarian forces that want to wreck the prospects of the country getting on its feet. And you can see exactly the same happening in Afghanistan.”

He said Afghans who had defied the threat of violence to vote this week are “quite magnificent”.

“The people of Afghanistan, they want their democracy… The majority of Afghans, we don’t impose this democracy on them. They want it. The question is, are they going to be allowed to get it?”

Mr Blair reiterated his call for British military intervention in Syria, saying strong opposition to war among British voters did not “invalidate” the need for action to prevent “terrible” consequences.

“In my view, it doesn’t invalidate the necessity to intervene because what you’ve got to compare is the fact and the consequences of intervention with the fact and the consequences of non-intervention.

“Now, we have not intervened in Syria. The consequences are, in my view, terrible and will be a huge problem not just for the Middle East region but for us in the years to come.”

Mr Blair said he knows nothing about the progress of the long-delayed Chilcott report into the Iraq War. “I don’t know anything more than you do,” he told BBC Radio 4.

Since leaving office Mr Blair has amassed an estimated fortune of £70 million through a series of business consultancy roles.

Source: The Telegraph

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