To those celebrating the Chilcot report
The Chilcot report did not include one accusation of criminality against Tony Blair with regard to the Iraq war
The 1.5-million-word Chilcot report, which was in the making for seven years, did not include one accusation of criminality against Britain’s then-Prime Minister Tony Blair with regard to the Iraq war. It did not even view his decision to wage the war as illegal. It did not ask to hold him accountable or investigate him. Blair was cleared of having lied to parliament. He did not apologize for the war, only for errors related to it.
Unfortunately, what is translated and published in Arabic is a mixture of hypocrisy and ignorance. With all due respect to my newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, which is usually known for its thoroughness and professionalism, it relied on a statement by the trivial Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) and made it a headline: “Blair should be held accountable.”
I was expecting the report to be harsh because the war was a total failure. It blamed Blair for not using all peaceful means before resorting to war, meaning it did not disapprove of his decision, but just said he was not patient enough.
Regarding the support he provided to then-US President George W Bush, we have to understand the special relationship between their two countries. Any British prime minister, whatever party he is affiliated to, cannot abandon that relationship, especially during crises, because it represents the greatest value to Britain internationally.
The war was a political act before being a military one. Bad wars are just the ones you lose. The objections to the war on Iraq to liberate Kuwait in 1990 were greater than those in 2003. If the United States had lost the first war, everyone would have said it was a wrong decision, but it is described today as political and military success. Wars are not correct or wrong; they are triumphs or defeats.
Arabs celebrating the Chilcot report do not understand the Western accountability system, and want to use it to blame others for their failuresAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The Americans won the war in 2003 so easily that everybody was surprised. They were misled by this easy victory, to the point that they underestimated the difficulty of post-war crisis management. Washington failed to achieve its primary objective, which was the establishment of a stable ally system representing a political model for the Middle East.
The countries of the region dealt differently with the crisis. Most considered Washington’s intervention a threat. The Syrian regime was afraid of being next on the list, so it took over management of the Iraqi resistance and made it easy for al-Qaeda to operate in Iraq via Syria. The Arab media started cheering for al-Qaeda and the armed opposition, thus helping Iran and the Syrian regime.
Tehran took advantage of Saudi Arabia’s failure to cooperate with the Americans by cooperating with US intelligence. This altered the regional situation. The failure of Gulf states and Egypt to intervene and cooperate caused governmental disorder in Baghdad and the political rise of Shiite extremism, about which I have written in the past.
All attempts to establish a centralized system via popular votes have failed. Instead of engaging in elections, ignorant people fought against them, wasting their constitutional rights and their voice in parliament. They are still suffering from the consequences of this.
Arabs celebrating the Chilcot report do not understand the Western accountability system, and want to use it to blame others for their failures. Instead of having an objective interpretation, they resort to blame and revenge – these have been the two rooted qualities in Arab culture for the last 14 centuries!
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 8, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed