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article imageTony Blair: No regrets over Iraq, get tough with Iran

By Chris Dade     Jan 30, 2010 in World
Appearing Friday at the inquiry in to the events surrounding Britain's involvement in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, former Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the international community to get tough with Iran.
As many seemed to be expecting when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on Friday at the Iraq Inquiry, also known as the Chilcot Inquiry after its Chairman Sir John Chilcot and being held in the QEII Conference Centre in London, he expressed no regret about the decision to commit his country to the invasion which eventually led to the removal from power of Saddam Hussein.
The London Times is one of the publications/websites describing Mr Blair as "unrepentant" with regard to the Iraq invasion, saying that he admitted "I'd do it again" if he were asked today to consider similar action in similar circumstances.
With shouts of "murderer" and "liar" ringing in his ears, after he accepted "Responsibility but not a regret for removing Saddam Hussein", Mr Blair also said:I had to take this decision as Prime Minister. It was a huge responsibility and there is not a single day that passes by that I don’t reflect and think about that responsibility, and so I should. But I genuinely believe that if we had left Saddam in power, even with what we know now, we would still have had to have dealt with him, possibly in circumstances where the threat was worse
But in some quarters it is not Mr Blair's position on the Iraq invasion that is causing anger.
Instead it is the comments he made to the inquiry regarding the need to adopt a "very hard, tough line" with Iran, who the Guardian says he accused of assisting the insurgency in Iraq - despite the fact that al-Qaeda and most supporters of Saddam Hussein are Sunni Muslims rather than Shia, the branch of Islam followed by the majority of Iranians - that has brought an angry reaction from Sir Richard Dalton, the British Ambassador to Iran from 2002 through 2006.
Responding to Mr Blair's assertion that Iran and Iraq might today, if Saddam Hussein had not been removed from power, be competing at both a nuclear level and in their support of terrorist groups, Sir Richard observed:One result of Tony Blair's intervention on Iran – he mentioned Iran 58 times – is to put the question of confronting Iran into play in the election.
We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians and with our candidates that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time
The election to which Sir Richard referred is that due to take place in the U.K. by the early part of the summer.
In his conversation with the BBC Radio 4 Today program Sir Richard's criticism of Tony Blair included the following observation in respect of the claim that the regime in Tehran has been the main reason the "mission" in Iraq has been so difficult:To say that Iran was the principal reason seemed to me to be part of a broader argument which he was trying to make, namely that it makes what he did in Iraq look better if he extends it to the future and says the policies then might have to be applied. But Iran is a completely different situation
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