In Iraq, the death toll from Saturday’s car bombing in Baghdad has topped 250, making it the deadliest car bombing in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion. While Iraq is in a state of mourning, a long-awaited British inquiry into the Iraq War has just been released. It blames former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for deliberately exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in the lead-up to the Iraq War. We speak with Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani, who campaigned against U.S.-led sanctions and the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Iraq, the death toll from Saturday’s car bombing in Baghdad has topped 250, making it the deadliest car bombing in that country since the 2003 U.S. invasion. The massive blast targeted shoppers preparing for the Eid, marking the end of Ramadan. A fire then spread to nearby buildings. On Sunday, a local resident decried the bombing.
ALI MOHAMMED: [translated] Is this Eid? Every Eid, we celebrate. Is this our Eid? Is this our Eid? Is this our Eid that everybody celebrates? Is this the Eid we should celebrate? People came to buy clothes to celebrate Eid. Now they are buying coffins. They’re buying coffins. May God punish those who are responsible!
AMY GOODMAN: While Iraq is marking a third day of mourning, a long-awaited British inquiry into the Iraq War has just been released. The chair of the official inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, announced the key findings earlier today.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Chilcot report goes on to blame former Prime Minister Tony Blair of deliberately exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Part of the report includes private correspondence between Blair and President George W. Bush. Eight months before the invasion, Blair wrote to Bush, quote, “I will be with you, whatever.” In June 2003, less than three months after the invasion began, Blair privately wrote to Bush that the task in Iraq is, quote, “absolutely awesome and I’m not at all sure we’re geared for it.” Blair added, quote, “And if it falls apart, everything falls apart in the region.” Earlier today, members of the Stop the War Coalition gathered in London to read off the names of Iraqis killed since the U.S.-U.K. invasion.
STOP THE WAR COALITION MEMBER 1: Fateha Ghazzi, aged eight. Nada Abdallah, 16.
STOP THE WAR COALITION MEMBER 2: Lance Corporal James McCue, Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers. Fusilier Kelan Turrington, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
STOP THE WAR COALITION MEMBER 3: Ammar Muhammad Hamoodi, aged one. Noor Elhuda Saad Hamoodi..
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the state of Iraq today and the newly released Chilcot inquiry, we’re joined by two guests in London. Tariq Ali is a political commentator, historian, activist, filmmaker, author, editor of the New Left Review! His most recent book, The Extreme Centre: A Warning. Sami Ramadani is an Iraqi-born lecturer in sociology. He was a political exile from Saddam’s regime and serves on the steering committee of Stop the War Coalition.
Tariq Ali and Sami Ramadani, welcome to Democracy Now! Sami Ramadani, let’s begin with you. You’re an Iraqi exile. You live in London. The Chilcot report has just come out. Prime Minister Cameron has addressed it on the floor of the Parliament. Sir Chilcot has given this report. Talk about his findings. This has been, what, seven years in the making.
Tabacco: Just like in the United States, once the War was in effect, it could NOT BE ERASED! We Americans are still STUCK IN IRAQ – STUCK BY THE GEORGE W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S MALEVOLENT CAPITALISM!
And I think it was on your program that General Wesley Clark was interviewed, I think, by yourself, Amy—
AMY GOODMAN: Yes!
SAMI RAMADANI: —that the Pentagon decided, within days of 9/11, to have regime change, interventions and wars in seven countries, in addition to Afghanistan, and he named Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran. So, you’re looking at a scenario where, since the mid-1990s, the so-called Neocons plotted a strategy, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, to go on the offensive and topple regimes and expand and secure important oil resources and raw materials, cut down any rival competitions.
But in the meantime, Iraq, as a society, as a state, was destroyed in the cruelest of fashions—shock and awe, mass crimes on an untold scale since World War II and the Vietnam War, of course. So you have a situation where a society—though we had a dictator ruling, it wasn’t removing the dictator that was the real objective, but really controlling Iraq. And failing to control it, they eventually destroyed it, just like they are doing—they did in Libya, they are doing in Syria and so on. And so, it fits in within that scale. But the biggest tragedy of all is the loss of life. Over a million people lost their lives in Iraq. The infrastructure destroyed, the health services destroyed, educational system, employment—at every turn—electricity, clean water. Iraq was a fairly advanced country by Third World standards. All this was destroyed. The ordinary lives of the people were ruined. Sectarianism was encouraged. Divide and rule was encouraged. Terrorism was brought into the country. The terrorism we see today was, in fact, consciously encouraged to encourage divide and rule, so that the U.S.-led occupation—and Britain, of course—could dominate the country and shape its future.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’d like to ask—
SAMI RAMADANI: But the whole thing is quite tragic, and I find it difficult sometimes even to emotionally control myself, talking about the tragedies that befell the Iraqi people.
Tabacco: And still the American Mainstream Media (MSM) hasn’t a ?Clue? as to why Muslim Terrorists want to KILL AMERICANS???
While Iraq is marking a third day of mourning, a long-awaited British inquiry into the Iraq War has just been released. The Chilcot report is 2.6 million words long—about three times the length of the Bible. Using excerpts from private correspondence between former Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush, the report details how Blair pushed Britain into the war despite a lack of concrete intelligence. For example, eight months before the invasion, Blair wrote to Bush: “I will be with you, whatever.” Then, in June 2003, less than three months after the invasion began, Blair privately wrote to Bush that the task in Iraq is “absolutely awesome and I’m not at all sure we’re geared for it.” Blair added, “And if it falls apart, everything falls apart in the region.” For more, we speak with British-Pakistani writer, commentator and author Tariq Ali.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to ask Tariq Ali your response to the report, especially the sections that talk about Blair’s almost obsession with regime change, with getting rid of Saddam Hussein. And also, why did it take seven years to produce this report?
TARIQ ALI: It took seven—it took seven years because it—it took seven years because every single person interviewed had to have a chance to see the report, and Blair and his lawyers were looking at the fine print very closely, as were the generals and other people.
The findings of the report, quite honestly, are not very remarkable or original, as Sami has already said. These were things that were being said by all of us before this war started. It was what virtually every speaker said at the million-strong Stop the War demonstration in London. Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn, in particular, have been saying all this. So, to have official confirmation that what we were all saying was right is nice, but it’s too little and too late.
And because the report had no desire or was not permitted to discuss the legality of this exercise, it means that while there is evidence in the report for independent lawyers to proceed and file a citizen suit, the report itself doesn’t allow the state to actually prosecute Blair for war crimes. He is a war criminal. He pushed the country into this illegal war. His supporters in Parliament are trying to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn, who was 100 percent right on this war, backed by the bulk of the media. So we’re in a strange situation now. The report, I think, will anger lots of people who, unlike us, were not convinced by the movement that what was taking place was a lie, based on a lie, and it was illegal. What is going to happen now remains to be seen, but I would very much hope that independent groups of lawyers and jurists demand now that Blair is charged and tried. It’s very clear he pushed the war. He forced the intelligence services to prepare dodgy dossiers. He pushed his attorney general to changing his opinions before he was allowed to address the Cabinet. All that, we have in the report! The question is: Is anyone going to answer for it, or is this just designed to be therapeutic?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Tariq, about this whole issue of the Labour leadership in Parliament trying to remove Jeremy Corbyn, even though he was one of the most vocal antiwar advocates, and even though the base, the majority base, of the Labour Party still supports him?
TARIQ ALI: Well, I mean, it’s bizarre. You know, some people said to me that the reason they tried this coup against Jeremy in Parliament was so he wasn’t leader of the Labour Party when the Chilcot report came out. We’ll see what he says today at his press conference in three or four hours’ time. But I think he will be very harsh. The irony is that the woman who is the main candidate against him is a supporter of the Iraq War. Now that we have a judicial inquiry, which says what it says about the war, I think surely it’s time that constituency Labour parties started the process of removing some of the chief warmongers from Parliament. They don’t represent anyone now, except a Cabinet in the past, a government, which went to war. And if you look at some of the footage being shown on Channel 4 today—what Corbyn said, what Benn said, with what Blair said, I mean, the utter complacency and brutality with which Blair told Parliament, “There are some people here who think that regime change is wrong,” and Gordon Brown nodding vigorously and Margaret Beckett on the other side—these are all the people involved in trying to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. And something—you know, I hope Labour members will now fight back, because it’s precisely against this sort of thing that Corbyn has been fighting the right inside the Labour Party.
AMY GOODMAN: Sami Ramadani, you’re on the steering committee of Stop the War Coalition, a friend of Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. This backlash against him for—around the Brexit vote, which he was opposed to when he was the opposition leader and spoke out against—on Democracy Now!, spoke out against Britain leaving the European Union just two weeks ago, what you think is behind it?
SAMI RAMADANI: Really, my own feeling is—and probably Tariq would share that view with me—is that they are genuinely worried that Jeremy Corbyn might lead the next—to victory, the Labour movement to victory in the next general election. And they are terrified of that prospect. They looked at the four by-elections that happened since he was elected, and they were all won with comfortable majorities. In fact, the last one doubled Labour’s majority. And then they looked at the local election results, and again he did very well. And they are genuinely worried that if he wins, what’s going to happen to them? What’s going to happen—
AMY GOODMAN: They’re concerned he’ll be prime minister?
SAMI RAMADANI: —to their political record of supporting the Iraq War or voting with the Tories or abstaining on important welfare—welfare policies or the Tories applying Neocon policies? They seem to prevaricate or concede to Tory demands and so on and so forth. And their abandonment of working-class communities over 20, 25—they continued on a Thatcherite policy for—Margaret Thatcher’s premiership destroyed so many working-class communities, and the new Labour leadership under Tony Blair simply continued that policy of abandoning working-class communities, and some of whom became so disillusioned, even voted for—with UKIP, which is an extreme right-wing party—
AMY GOODMAN: Sami Ramadani, we have to break!
SAMI RAMADANI: —party here. And Jeremy Corbyn is providing a new vision and a new strategy, and they want to undermine him.
AMY GOODMAN: Sami Ramadani, we have to break, and Tariq Ali, but we’re going to come back to ask you about what happened in Iraq this weekend, the largest car bomb attack since the Gulf War began. We’ll be back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Iraq, the death toll from Saturday’s car bombing in Baghdad has topped 250, making it the deadliest car bombing in that country since the 2003 U.S. invasion. While Iraq is marking a third day of mourning, a long-awaited British inquiry into the Iraq War has just been released, blaming Tony Blair for his role in choosing to invade Iraq. I wanted to turn to former Prime Minister Blair. In November, he told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that there were, quote, “elements of truth” to the claim that removing Saddam Hussein played a part in the creation of ISIS.
FAREED ZAKARIA: When people look at the rise of ISIS, many people point to the invasion of Iraq as the principal cause. What do you say to that?
TONY BLAIR: I think there are elements of truth in that. But I think we’ve, again, got to be extremely careful; otherwise we’ll misunderstand what’s going on in Iraq and in Syria today. Of course, you can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Sami Ramadani, your response to that—to that clip and to the recent bombing in Baghdad and the general situation in Iraq now, 13 years after the war started?
SAMI RAMADANI: I think I just have to contain my anger, really, because listening to Tony Blair there pontificating about his role in this genocidal war makes any—any human being, really, with a bit of humanity in them quite angry. After all this death and destruction, he would be sitting there trying to justify the fact that terrorism was brought into Iraq after 2003, all of these so-called leaders of ISIS. By the way, ISIS was al-Qaeda in Iraq. That was its official name. And we know al-Qaeda was founded in Afghanistan with the help of the CIA and the support of Britain and so on. But as usual, some of these terrorist organizations that they encourage and arm bite the hand that feeds them occasionally.
But that doesn’t change the strategic picture, that nearly all Iraqis, even supporters—some of the supporters of the invasion and occupation testify to the fact that terrorism was encouraged by the occupation forces, whether of the British or American variety. And the multiplicity of these terrorist organizations was also encouraged by the regional powers—Saudis, Qataris, Turkey. They’re all close U.S. allies. They funded these organizations. They supplied them with arms. Turkey gradually became the logistical base of these terrorist organizations. Some 30,000 fighters, according to the United Nations, came from over 80 countries across the world—trained fighters, most of them—from as far as Chechnya and Libya and Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, of course, and so on. And they were all—as The New York Times, as Seymour Hersh, as many other reliable sources have revealed, that the CIA coordinated a lot of this from Turkey.
So, to sit down and listen to Tony Blair trying to dissociate himself and George Bush and the policymakers then of the proliferation of terrorist groups, the murders in Iraq—really, Iraqis, if you ask ordinary people, they will tell you we are still at war. The 2003 invasion and occupation of the country has not ended. This terrorism is a continuation of that war. They see these terrorist organizations as an arm of the same invasion and occupation of the country. They’re still dividing and ruling. They are still trying to dominate Iraq, because the Iraqi people have a great history of fighting for independence, for progress, for socialism even—
AMY GOODMAN: Sami Ramadani—
SAMI RAMADANI: —and they cannot control the country that easily, and terrorism is serving them.
AMY GOODMAN: Sami and Tariq Ali, I want to play for you a clip of Donald Trump yesterday in Raleigh, North Carolina, talking about Saddam Hussein.
DONALD TRUMP: Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. Right? He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read him the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. It was over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq! It’s like Harvard.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Donald Trump yesterday. Tariq Ali, your response?
In the last week, more than 300 people have been killed in attacks by militants in Iraq, Turkey, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. The wave of violence came as Muslims across the world were preparing for celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. In Iraq, the weekend’s suicide car attack in a busy shopping center in Baghdad killed more than 250 people, making it the deadliest attack since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It has prompted the resignation of Iraq’s interior minister and helped fuel increasing political destabilization in the country. For more on the wave of violence and political turmoil, we’re joined by Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University. He says Western policies in the region, including the U.S.-led war in Iraq, have created this destabilization. “I think they are policies that are helping the United States and European countries sell weapons and still control the region.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to bring another guest into this conversation, Sami Ramadani, Iraqi-born lecturer, speaking to us from London, as well as the well-known British-Pakistani author, commentator, editor of New Left Review, Tariq Ali. But we’re going to turn right now to Oxford in Britain. Tariq Ramadan is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, author of a number of influential books on Islam and the West, including Western Muslims and the Future of Islam and In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad. Ramadan was named by Time magazine as one of the most important innovators of the 21st century. Under the Bush administration, he was not allowed to come into the United States, where he was invited to teach at Notre Dame University. Tariq Ramadan now teaches at Oxford.
Professor Ramadan, your response to the Chilcot report, the attacks in Iraq? And then we’ll move to Saudi Arabia and the ISIS attacks this weekend there.
TARIQ RAMADAN: Look, I think that what we heard from Tariq Ali and Sami Ramadani, these are important points, that it’s very true that what happened there and what is happening now is connected to policies that were decided in Washington and decided in London, which had nothing to do with human rights, had nothing to do with freedom and democracy, it was all about interests and geostrategic interests. And if we go for it, we understand that the war was launched for very, very, in fact, geostrategic and economic interests, and had nothing to do with the dignity. So now we know that, and things are happening now that are showing how much—or, how many contradictions we had in the British policies following in the footsteps of the American policy in the region.
And then, the connection that we have here with Saudi Arabia as an ally in the region and the mess that we have now in the new Middle East is all to—has to do with some of the reasons that they were talking about right now. And we cannot disconnect this from that. If we do this, we are completely misled, and we can end up with what is happening in Saudi Arabia with the attacks during the last days, by supporting the regime and not understanding that it’s much more complex than that.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Tariq Ramadan, what about those attacks? Because here you’re seeing a situation of, actually, especially in the attack in Medina, near the holy site of Saudi Arabia and of Islam, the attacks on Muslims themselves.
TARIQ RAMADAN: Yes, but this is not new. You are talking about Iraq, and this is every day we have exactly the same people targeting Muslims, Shia or Sunni, all Muslims. It’s the same in Syria. It’s the same in the whole region. It’s even the same with Saudi Arabia attacking Yemen. So we have—you know, the majority of the victims are Muslims. And here, what we have in Saudi Arabia, which is new, is targeting in Medina, which is the second sacred place for Muslims, so it’s as if they are now ready to go against all the Muslims. And you can hear from around the world people saying this has nothing to do with Islam, it’s against any Islamic teachings. At the same time, if you look at the symbols, they were targeting Shia mosques, they were targeting the U.S. Embassy. So they are targeting symbols.
So we have to ask ourselves what they are trying to do here. Is it because they are losing ground in Iraq that they are doing this? Is it, in fact, just to show that they can target the people wherever they are? But the point for us here is that there is no clear vision in what they are doing, except to spread around violence and violent extremism. So we have to condemn this. But we have to take a step back and to try to understand what is happening in the region and who are the people who are playing. And, you know, Tariq Ali was saying they are making mistakes. Unfortunately, I’m more cynical than that. I’m not sure that they are mistakes. I think that they are policies that are helping the United States and European countries, in the mess, to sell weapons and still to control the region out of this completely destabilized situation.
Tabacco: Even my Primary Source, LinkTV/DemocracyNow! Is reticent when it comes to Cause & Effect: Great on Effect, but ever so reticent on Cause!
Never doubt, Folks, that the Cause stems from Unfettered American CAPITALISM! When others do to us what we do to them, WE FORM OUR OWN ISIS! Look no further than Dallas, Texas! But if you must, look back to the Revolutionary War! And we had much less reason then than Muslims do now to BECOME 1776 TERRORISTS!
IN CASE MY DALLAS, TEXAS, REFERENCE
WAS TOO VAGUE:
Tabacco: In Dallas the MSM gets it! In Baghdad & Riyadh they don’t!
Tabacco: I consider myself both a funnel and a filter. I funnel information, not readily available on the Mass Media, which is ignored and/or suppressed. I filter out the irrelevancies and trivialities to save both the time and effort of my Readers and bring consternation to the enemies of Truth & Fairness! When you read Tabacco, if you don’t learn something NEW, I’ve wasted your time.
Tabacco is not a blogger, who thinks; I am a Thinker, who blogs. Speaking Truth to Power!
In 1981′s ‘Body Heat’, Kathleen Turner said, “Knowledge is power”.
T.A.B.A.C.C.O. (Truth About Business And Congressional Crimes Organization) – Think Tank For Other 95% Of World: WTP = We The People