Tony Blair is a man that has gained a reputation comparable to and equally as divisive as Margaret Thatcher’s. He has certainly become one of Britain’s most contentious Prime Ministers of the past decade and was the acting PM at the time of the 7/7 bombings. At the time of the attack, Britain was engulfed in a war in Iraq which not only cost the UK tax payer £9.24 billion, but has also led to the crippling of Blair’s career for one of the poorest foreign policy initiatives. This week he has offered his own verdict on the events in July 2005 – that they were not caused by the campaign in Iraq.

This is a bold statement by Blair to say the least. Blair’s claim that there was no correlation between Iraq and 7/7 dramatically overlooks the relationship that Islamic extremists have with conflicts concerning Muslim populations. It is the humanitarian fallouts of such conflicts which extreme Islamists capitalise on as evidence that the Islamic faith is being undermined by the West. This relationship was overlooked by Blair today in his statement, and one can only assume that this was a deliberate and calculated move aiming to limit the criticism of his premiership.

The campaign itself left 1.6 million Iraqi’s displaced, totalling 5.5 per cent of the population, whilst aerial bombardment devastated the economic hubs of Baghdad and Nasiriyah leaving rife levels of unemployment. The incompetent process of disbanding Saddam’s military forces further left the country in chaos, with many of these former generals orchestrating the atrocities performed by ISIS in their Iraq and Syrian campaigns. The conflict initiated a vast socio-economic vacuum that became an ample target for radicalisation, and these are the issues that Britain is currently facing in 2015.

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Islam is a faith centred around community, which is otherwise known as the ummah. The ummah, like many aspects of Islam, has a moderate and an extremist interpretation; a moderate sees it as their peaceful responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of the ummah, whereas an extremist enacts their responsibility through a process of violence and terror. It is an interpretation divided by charity and peace against terrorism and bloodshed.

The campaign in Iraq exemplifies the bipolar interpretation of the ummah. Extremists advocate the implementation of violence to defend their brethren in other Muslim regions, and continuously reference the people of Palestine, Bosnia, and Chechnya as being oppressed in their homeland by their respective governments. The governmental policies of Britain, America and Israel are also bluntly seen as imperialistic, believing that their agendas are the annihilation of Islam entirely.

Blair has blindly ignored this rationale which incorporates the campaign in Iraq as well as others, as examples of western domination. These are conflicts that are repeatedly referenced through social media and in the propaganda efforts of Islamic fundamentalists, who have successfully manipulated fellow Muslims in the past to carry out attacks on the London tube and the Madrid train network.

The crucial point to remember is that these conflicts have transnational implications. The Afghan war against the Soviets saw an influx of Saudis and Egyptians ready to fight against Russian imperialism; moreover, the U.S invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 witnessed an exodus of Chechens, Egyptians, Syrians and Iraqis, all of whom were battle-hardened and felt it was their responsibility to expel the infidel. The conflict involving ISIS today is no different and has in fact reached farther afield and recruited Muslims on our own European doorstep

The terrorists who detonated the bombs in London in July 2005 were most definitely acting in the same fashion, with Iraq and Afghanistan being some of their main grievances. Their mujahideen brothers were suffering from the decimation of their livelihoods and businesses, whilst also losing family members to relentless drone attacks and armed shoot-outs. The fanatics can only have interpreted these events as absolute evidence of their unquestionable duty to protect their Islamic brothers and sisters against western aggression. The 7/7 attack which culminated with the death of 52 Britons, therefore was a retaliation for the losses endured by the Muslim community – there had been 3,977 Iraqi civilian deaths in 2003 alone, following the invasion, and the terrorists were simply responding to this catastrophe by murdering innocent Britons.

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Tony Blair may have been saving face this week with his comments on 7/7, and he was most probably trying to absolve himself of the horrors which have surfaced from this illegal campaign. Blair, who has been recently labelled a war criminal, obviously has every interest in disassociating the 7/7 bombings from his foreign policy excursions.

‘This is a global problem … we’re not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying that the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision made by any government’. –  Tony Blair on 7/7

Isolating the London tube bombings and divorcing them from the Iraq war, clearly is inaccurate. Why would Lee Rigby be considered a legitimate target, other than the fact that he was a representative of the British armed forces which is held responsible by Islamic fundamentalists for the devastation and social depravity in Iraq following the British and American invasion.

The Iraq campaign eventually claimed the lives of between 9,7461-106,348 civilians, and figures such as these will remain a prominent point of reference for jihadists when choosing to commit atrocities. To the fanatics, these Iraqis were ultimately victims of a western imperialist attempt to dominate and subvert the Iraqi Muslim community.

When someone so senior as Tony Blair, who was the Quartet’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, fails to recognise the rationale behind modern Islamic terrorism, it leaves the public with nothing but apprehension as to how the current crisis in Iraq will be resolved. His comments are misguided and ignorant of the reality of the Middle East today and its relationship to transnational Islamic terrorism.

But then again, it is not in his interest to argue otherwise.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11107739