The Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war has concluded that senior politicians and military officials failed to prepare for the hugely important post-conflict phase of the operation.
The report which can be found here, said that the government recognised just how crucial the post-war phase would be to bringing stability to the region, but failed to prepare properly for the risks and challenges that would follow.
This was despite the fact that ministers were presented with a “clear indication of the potential scale of the post-conflict task and the significant risks” associated with the UK’s proposed approach to intervening.
One of these risks was Iraq descending into an era of “political disintegration” which would lead to the emergence of extremist violence. Today, Iraq is plagued by sectarian violence and terrorist groups, including the so-called Islamic State (IS).
Other risks that UK officials failed to prepare for were:
- The inadequacy of US plans
- The UK’s inability to exert significant influence on US planning
- The reluctance of potential international partners to contribute to the post-conflict effort
The report concludes that Tony Blair’s government “failed to analyse or manage those risks adequately” because it lacked two key elements of decision-making: ministerial oversight of post-conflict policy, and effective co-operation between different government departments.
The investigation also found that the evidence used by officials planning for post-war Iraq was “fragmented and incomplete” while many of the sources were unreliable.
This meant that the strategy that the government formulated for bringing stability to post-war Iraq was ridden with gaps in knowledge and flawed information.
For example, the majority of the Joint Intelligence Committee’s (JIC) assessments related directly to Saddam Hussein’s military and diplomatic operations, but much less attention was paid to important issues of internal politics, like relationships between ethnic and religious groups like the Shia and the Kurds.
The JIC was responsible for providing ministers and senior officials with co-ordinated intelligence on a range of issues in the fields of security, defence, and foreign affairs.
Blair made significant errors of judgement on multiple occasions.
The former prime minister recognised the magnitude of the post-war challenge, the report says, but failed to seek assurance from President George Bush about the US’ plans for stabilising post-war Iraq.
He also failed to seek the necessary advice on whether the UK’s engagement in the war should have been reassessed in the absence of a satisfactory post-war strategy.
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