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i Deputy Editor's Letter: The Blair backlash has been predictable and entirely justified


It always seemed inevitable that Tony Blair would crawl out from the woodwork to deny any responsibility for the worsening security situation in Iraq. Just as opportune was his recommendation that the West should consider military options in order to regain control of the situation. And if those were a shock to you, the predictable backlash to his comments has surely been no surprise.

I will leave the deconstruction of Mr Blair’s denial that he caused the current crisis to the peerless Robert Fisk and Ian Birrell, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the plight of the millions of Iraqi Shia who are being forced to flee their homes. The ramshackle Iraqi armed forces are being swept aside by Isis fighters, who have their eyes firmly set on Baghdad. But of the options available, none seem the right course to take.

Sitting back and watching the region descend into ever greater chaos cannot be the right moral thing to do especially as the West’s intervention in the Gulf war of 1990 and, despite what Mr Blair says, the Iraq war of 2003 has been a huge factor in the destabilisation seen in the region today.

Equally, a war weary public would not tolerate air strikes or ground troops returning to the troubled Middle East region for the third time in two decades. Drone attacks, as used in the Libyan uprising and in Afghanistan, will not be popular – attacks by unmanned aircraft have been subject to huge opposition due to their indiscriminate nature. It is a dismal choice that we face, and it may just be a question of trying to avert the worst-case scenario.

But whatever you think of his  recent outburst (and I’m betting most are unimpressed), Mr Blair  is right about one thing: the whole of the Middle East is under threat. He just needs to accept the part  he played in its downfall. @jonesrhodri

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