Boris Johnson: Britain made 'horrendous mistakes' in Iraq War

Posted On: 
7th December 2017

Britain's ‘horrendous mistakes’ during the Iraq War contributed towards the subsequent “chaos” in the region, Boris Johnson has said.

Boris Johnson Boris Johnson said Britain helped 'cause the chaos' in Iraq

The Foreign Secretary said the conclusion of John Chilcot’s report into the conflict, which said the UK failed to achieve its original intentions, amounted to the “understatement of the century.”

His comments came during a speech in which he accused those who pin the blame for Islamist terror on western military action of feeding the narrative of Jihadis.

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However on the subject of British involvement in Iraq, he said the UK created an impression of "contempt" for Muslim countries' political institutions by toppling Saddam Hussein without a "clear plan for succession".

“Yes, it’s true we have made horrendous mistakes even when our intentions have been broadly good," he said.

“Sir John Chilcot concluded, the Iraq of 2009, when troops withdrew certainly did not meet the UK’s objectives as described in January 2003. It fell far short of strategic success.

“That must be the competitor for the understatement of the century.”

The Foreign Secretary said Britain “sent a troubling signal around the Muslim world” by helping create the “chaos” which resulted from the void left after the tyrant was ousted.

He added: “Saddam was a monster, a mass murderer; but he nonetheless stood at the apex of the Iraqi political system and in toppling him with a flip of our fingers, we seemed to suggest a contempt for national political institutions in the Middle East and north Africa.”

Earlier in the speech Mr Johnson said military intervention had not sparked the rise in Islamic extremism, but that it was "part of the solution”.

“To assert, as people often do, that the terrorism we see on the streets of Britain and America is some kind of punishment for adventurism and folly in the Middle East is to ignore that these so-called punishments are visited on peoples - Swedes, Belgians, Finns or the Japanese hostages murdered by Daesh - with no such history in the region,” he said.