As Iraq teeters on the edge of collapse, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s incompetence led to the crisis, and that President Barack Obama ordered U.S. troops to leave the fledgling country too soon.
“Three or four years ago, Al Qaeda in Iraq was a beaten force,” Blair wrote in an essay, the Daily Mail reported. “The sectarianism of the Maliki government snuffed out a genuine opportunity to build a cohesive Iraq. And there will be debate about whether the withdrawal of US forces happened too soon.”
Defending the decision to topple Saddam Hussein, Blair said things would have gotten worse had the dictator been left in power and rejected the argument that the country would be stable today if he was still around.
“It is bizarre to claim that, but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis,” he wrote. “We have to re-think our strategy towards Syria and support the Iraqi government in beating back the insurgency.”
Blair, a staunch and steadfast ally of President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, said extremist groups in Syria and Iraq should be targeted.
“However unpalatable this may seem, the alternative is worse,” he said.
“There is no easy or painless solution,” Blair added. “The Jihadist groups are never going to leave us alone. 9/11 happened for a reason. This is, in part, our struggle, whether we like it or not.”
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