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19 November, 2015

Blair: without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State

The former UK prime minister used to claim the 2003 invasion would undermine jihadis. The 12 years since have proved how wrong he was

Only one of Tony Blair’s mea culpas in his CNN interview stands out as truly significant: his partial acknowledgment that without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State (Isis).

Until now, Blair had refused to link the two, insisting instead in the lead-up to the war that sending western troops would deny jihadis an arena and prevent Saddam Hussein from using them as proxies in his standoff with the west.

The 12 years since have constantly disproved both claims. Within six months of British troops landing in Iraq, the SAS was sent to Baghdad’s western outskirts to attack jihadis who had taken up residence in Ramadi. Back then, they were a mob of foreigners and Iraqis who fed off a broad Sunni discontent fuelled by the invasion; a serendipitous vanguard that not long afterwards organised into al-Qaida in Iraq, then the Islamic State of Iraq and, since mid-2013, Isis.

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