Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has implied that the UK and US should be ready to take military action against Iran. He made the comments while being questioned by the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war in central London today (21 January).
His comments are likely to alarm those who had hoped that Blair would show remorse for some of the effects of his decision to join the US government in invading Iraq in 2003. Blair not only defended this decision but went further, saying that the West should not seek accommodation with Iran.
A member of the inquiry panel, Roderick Lyme, reminded Tony Blair that he had predicted the invasion of Iraq would deter Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. Lyme suggested that it had rather encouraged them to do so.
Blair rejected this, saying that “initially, they felt that pressure” but that the situation had now changed.
Abandoning the nervous manner that he had demonstrated this morning, Blair began to speak passionately as if he were making a public speech, describing how he sees the role of Iran when he travels in the Middle East.
“I see the impact and influence of Iran everywhere,” said Blair, “It is negative and destabilising everywhere. It is supportive of terrorist groups.”
He lashed out at the current US President Barrack Obama for offering the hand of friendship to Iran at a speech in Egypt. He said Iran had carried on “with their terrorism” despite Obama's comments.
“At some point the West has got to get out of this... policy of thinking that we are causing what Iran is doing and these extremists are doing,” said Blair “At some point, we've got to get our heads out of the sand”.
Blair also urged the panel to recognise the links between Iran and Al-Qaeda. It is not clear what he meant by this, given that it is widely acknowledged that they do not support each other. Al Qaeda is a loose network of extremist Sunni groups, while Iran is governed by hardline Shias.