Why? Iraq


After weeks of denying that there was any link between the ongoing war in Iraq and the London bombings, Prime Minister Tony Blair was forced on 26 July to admit that the occupation of Iraq is used by al Qaeda to recruit new bombers. <http://tinyurl.com/dfdk5>


The Guardian reported on 19 July, ‘33% of Britons think the prime minister bears “a lot” of responsibility for the London bombings and a further 31% “a little”.’ That’s two-thirds of the British people. ‘Only 28% of voters agree with the government that Iraq and the London bombings are not connected.’ <http://tinyurl.com/b58zz>

On 25 July, the Daily Mirror reported, ’23 per cent said the war was the main reason for the London bombings. Another 62 per cent believe that while Iraq was not the principle cause, it did contribute to the reasons behind the atrocities. Just 12 per cent said there was no real link.’ 


The Guardian editors (and many other commentators) have condemned ‘the obsession in some quarters with trying to establish that the bombings can be explained by hostility to Mr Blair following the invasion of Iraq.’ 
This they refer to as ‘the hard left’s obsession with Iraq’. (28 July,

They do not mention that this ‘hard left’ includes the Royal Institute for International Affairs, the Home Office and Foreign Office, much of British intelligence (MI5, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, and the Joint Intelligence Committee), and Conservatives.


One reason Mr Blair had to change tack was the report on terrorism by the respected Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) released on 18 July. This said that, ‘The UK is at particular risk [from al Qaeda] because it is the closest ally of the United States, [and] has deployed armed forces in the military campaigns to topple the Taleban regime in Afghanistan and in Iraq… Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and US military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure, and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign.’


The burning question in British politics is how young Muslims who have grown up here become so full of hate that they could carry out the 7/7 atrocities. The primary answer given in the secret ‘Young Muslims and Extremism’ report, compiled by the Home Office and the Foreign Office last year, is: British foreign policy.

The report says: ‘It seems that a particularly strong cause of disillusionment amongst Muslims including young Muslims is a perceived “double standard” in the foreign policy of western governments (and often those of Muslim governments), in particular Britain and the US…’

‘This perception seems to have become more acute post 9/11. The perception is that passive “oppression”, as demonstrated in British foreign policy, eg non-action on Kashmir and Chechnya, has given way to “active oppression” – the war on terror, and in Iraq and Afghanistan are all seen by a section of British Muslims as having been acts against Islam.’

The causes of ‘extremism’ are given in this order: foreign policy, Islamophobia, counter-terror laws, and so on.


Before the war, the Joint Intelligence Committee warned Tony Blair on 10 February 2003 that, ‘al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq.’ (ISC report, p. 34

Weeks before the 7/7 bombings, the Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre warned that, ‘Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the UK’. <http://tinyurl.com/9m6tx>

After the 21/7 bombing attempt, internal spy agency MI5 warned, ‘Though they have a range of aspirations and “causes”, Iraq is a dominant issue for a range of [al Qaeda-type] extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe.’ <http://tinyurl.com/8lfz4>


It’s not just George Galloway or Labour left-wingers who see a link with Iraq. Before the war on Iraq, in Feb. 2003, Ken Clarke, former Conservative Chancellor, asked, ‘Next time a large bomb goes off in a western city, how far did this policy [the invasion of Iraq] contribute to it?’ <http://tinyurl.com/ay2yk>

Former Conservative MP Matthew Parris has recorded that in the aftermath of the London bombings, in his right-wing social circles, ‘Alongside rampantly right-wing views on race, culture and immigration, you encounter
– and among deeply conservative folk – a knee-jerk sympathy for the views of George Galloway. You will be very far from being thrown out of a Derbyshire pub for suggesting that “Tony Blair asked for this”.’ 


‘In a remarkable insight into the motives behind the alleged would-be bombers, Hussain Osman, arrested in Rome on Friday, has revealed how the suspects watched hours of TV footage showing grief-stricken Iraqi widows and children alongside images of civilians killed in the conflict. He is alleged to have told prosecutors that after watching the footage: “There was a feeling of hatred and a conviction that it was necessary to give a signal—to do something.” ‘ (Observer, 31 July)

The Leeds bombers are said to have formed their cell after watching ‘videos of what was happening in Bosnia, Iraq and Chechnya…You see that and you start to get angry. That was the beginning.’ (Sunday Telegraph, 17 July )

The first, and most plausible, claim of responsibility for the 7/7 bombings describes the attacks as ‘revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan.’


Michael Scheuer, the CIA’s bin Laden expert from 1996 to 1999, says we must understand that ‘the motivation for the people fighting us has to do with our policies… we’re not going to talk these people out of what they’re up to… it’s a mistake to think the Muslims don’t understand our policy… it would make a difference if there was some kind of change in our policy toward Israel… we need a shot of democracy inside the United States… If… the decision is to keep those policies kind of as they are— well, I think that might be a mistake. But… at least the country would be going into the war against Islamic militancy with its eyes open, knowing that those policies, more than anything else, motivate our enemy. 
We would go into it with our eyes open. We’d be expecting a very long war, and a very bloody and costly war.’ (Jan. ’05 )


Tony Blair refuses to accept that invading and occupying Iraq has increased the risk to Britain. See, for example, this wonderful example of evasion from his 26 July press conference:

I am going to return to Iraq, I am afraid, simply as a fact, rightly or wrongly, do you accept the possibility that Britain’s involvement in Iraq has increased the danger of terrorism in this country?

Prime Minister:
I don’t think I am going to answer that in different terms than I have already answered I am afraid, which is to say that these people will use it. But I honestly think this, and it is up to you whether you agree with it or not, that the roots of this go a lot deeper. You come back to 11 September and 11 September happened before Iraq or Afghanistan.

Would you accept the possibility?

Prime Minister:
I know what you are trying to do. [End of answer] <http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page7999.asp>

Invading and occupying Iraq has increased the risk from terrorism. 
Withdrawing from Iraq would decrease the risk from terrorism. It’s not rocket science.

We should withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan because it’s the right thing to do. (As for the objection that this would lead to civil war, and even greater disaster for the Iraqi people, there is the UN Option.)

Withdrawal would also make Britain safer from terrorism.

A referenced version of this article is available on <www.j-n-v.org>

Milan Rai
Justice Not Vengeance
landline 0845 458 9571 (UK) +44 1424 428 792 (int) mobile phone (0)7980 748 555 www.j-n-v.org

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