Jack Straw on Libya: the Iraq connection

John Rentoul

straw 300x203 Jack Straw on Libya: the Iraq connectionJack Straw has an important and well-written article in The Times today (pay wall), which augurs well for the quality of his memoirs. He points out that one Arab democracy is often left out of the commentary on the uprising across north Africa and the Middle East — Iraq:

No more than Egypt or Tunisia is it yet a fully functioning democracy, but it is a lot further down the path to that goal. It’s got an agreed constitution — and an elected government that more or less works.

(It took a long time to form the present Iraqi government, but not as long as in Belgium, as he says.)

He does not claim that the toppling of Saddam Hussein helped to trigger the fall of the other Arab domino-dictatorships. But it did help to make Gaddafi less dangerous than he otherwise would now be:

I was closely involved in the démarche of the Libyan regime towards the end of 2003, when Colonel Gaddafi was confronted with painstaking (and accurate) intelligence developed by our Secret Intelligence Service and the CIA about his WMD programmes. I have no doubt that what convinced him peacefully to abandon these programmes was Iraq. But don’t take that from me. Just three days after Libya had agreed to have its WMD programmes dismantled under international supervision, CNN reported that “Gaddafi acknowledged that the Iraq war may have influenced him” in his decision. In the same report Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector, said he imagined that “Gaddafi could have been scared by what he saw happen in Iraq”.

We would all have been scared if his programmes had been further developed in the eight years since: 23 tonnes of mustard gas, 3,563 unfilled chemical aerial bombs, “hundreds” of Scud-B, and five of the much more advanced Scud-C missiles made up part of the haul. Libya had previously declared just one nuclear site. There were in fact 12. In 2004 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency gave forensic detail of an extensive, active covert programme for highly enriched uranium and the production of nuclear weapons.

He takes issue with the idea that the invasion of Iraq strengthened the Iran theocracy in the long run:

If I were a leader of the hardliners in Iran I would be very exercised about my longer-term prospects of hanging on to power without a legitimate mandate.

And concludes:

But for the change in Iraq that began in 2003, the region would be a much more dangerous place.

Picture: BBC

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  • barabu

    Iranians do not want us to invade, bomb and kill them. Good, then we should not invade and bomb Iran. Easy.

    No, it is not ‘complicated’. They have massive energy resources which we want to control, so we subvert, curve up, invade, kill and displace them. It is very straightforward. You have an interest in making it complicated. It isn’t.

    I don’t think all the bad guys are in the west, of course. That would be absurd. But we are responsible for our bad guys, a concept you can’t wrap your head around.

    Mubarak was a good guy, you say. Tell that to the Egyptians. You and people like Blair don’t seem to comprehend it but it is the people of Egypt who decide whether Mubarak is a ‘Good’ guy, not some here-today-gone tomorrow toady who thinks ‘good’ is the same as ‘good for me’.

  • BlairSupporter

    @ barabu – these threads don’t go down all that many layers, it seems. Responding to myself. I expect you think that’s apt. Like talking to myself!

    Oh, if politics were as “easy” as you suggest. If we sit back and allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb, and they use it, what wold you then say, presuming you were then capable of saying anything? Something like “why didn’t we act to stop this mad regime”?

    I do not accept ANY, repeat ANY of your premises. And ditto from your side.

    You have an interest in lying. We do not cotrol, kill, subvert ANY of those from whom we presently import oil. You are beginning to sound utterly braindead now.

    In Egypt the people are already feeling the wrath of the army as sides split. Without Mubarak there is no glue. It’ll be the same in Libya.

    Blair’s reference to “good” regrding Mubarak was in regard to keeping YOU alive, safe from terrorists and WMD, as well as cosy in your warm house and car. It was NOT for his own selfish reasons.

    Grow up, FGS.

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