With the benefit of hindsight, the world has now come to a conclusion that Iraq’s “deadliest” weapons of mass destruction the civilized world was so keen to recover, secure and control was its huge oil reserves which are the largest in the world. The intelligence reports were not figments of imagination of the intelligence community, these were “doctored” for the specific purpose of convincing the world, and eliciting its support, that Iraq invasion was in the interest of the security of the West and the USA. In the enthusiasm to occupy the oilfields, the legitimate security assessments of the negative fallout of this misadventure were conveniently pushed under the carpet. The protest rallies of millions of people were also contemptuously ignored.
According to a report in The Telegraph, Baroness Manningham-Buller disclosed that she had warned the then Labor Prime Minister that the UK would be at greater risk of terrorist attacks if he pursued military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime. The former director general of the domestic security service, who retired in 2007, described the Iraq conflict as a “distraction” from efforts to tackle al Qaida and warned that more terrorist attacks on British soil seemed likely. Her comments represent the most outspoken criticisms to date of the 2003 conflict by such a senior figure in the intelligence services.
Downing Street infamously claimed that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) within 45 minutes of an order to do so, although no evidence of such a WMD program was ever found.
In an interview with the Radio Times, Lady Manningham-Buller suggested that she argued at the time that the Government should focus on defeating al Qaida and winning the war in Afghanistan instead of attacking Saddam Hussein.
“Iraq did not present a threat to the UK,” she said. “The service advised that it was likely to increase the domestic threat and that it was a distraction from the pursuit of al Qaida. I understood the need to focus on Afghanistan. Iraq was a distraction.”
She said it was “for others to decide” whether the Iraq war had a mistake but added: “Intelligence isn’t complete without the full picture and the full picture is all about doubt. Otherwise, you go the way of George Bush.”
Last year, Lady Manningham-Buller warned that the invasion of Iraq had led to the z of some young British Muslims.
She told the official inquiry into the war, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, that the security services became “overwhelmed” by the upsurge in activity from home-grown extremists convinced that the West was anti-Muslim after the war began.
The horrifying fallout of Iraq misadventure was radicalization of a whole generation of young people – not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam. This gave OBL a godsend opportunity to reorganize his network in Afghanistan. The record shows that MI5 did not regard Iraq as a significant terrorist threat to British interests before the war, and had discounted any link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks on the US. The agency refused to provide evidence for the Government’s now-infamous dossier on Saddam’s military capability because it doubted the credibility of the information. The intelligence on Iraqi WMD – most of which came from the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6 – used to justify the invasion had been “fragmentary” and did not justify the weight placed upon it.
The rest is history.