Tony Blair’s attempts to "absolve himself" from the current crisis in Iraq has gained the former prime minister some high profile detractors, which now include three former British ambassadors, who have backed a campaign to have the former leader sacked as Middle East peace envoy.
According to The Guardian, retired diplomats Sir Richard Dalton, who was ambassador to Iran when Blair was prime minister, Oliver Miles, who was ambassador to Libya when diplomatic relations were severed in 1984 following the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, and Christopher Long, a former ambassador to Egypt, have signed a letter calling for Blair’s dismissal.
The letter has been organised by the producers of MP George Galloway’s documentary The Killing Of Tony Blair, which argues that it was the 2003 invasion of Iraq that has led to the current rise in "fundamentalist terrorism" in a region where there was previously none. The missive, which calls Blair’s performance as a peace envoy as "negligible", was dispatched to the United Nations and the European Union, as well as to representatives of the US and Russia.
The letter read: "In reality, the invasion and occupation of Iraq had been a disaster long before the recent gains made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The sectarian conflict responsible for much of the war's reprehensible human cost was caused in part by the occupying forces' division of the country's political system along sectarian lines."
It added: "We are also dismayed, however, at Tony Blair's recent attempts to absolve himself of any responsibility for the current crisis by isolating it from the legacy of the Iraq war. In order to justify the invasion, Tony Blair misled the British people by claiming that Saddam had links to al Qaida. In the wake of recent events it is a cruel irony for the people of Iraq that perhaps the invasion's most enduring legacy has been the rise of fundamentalist terrorism in a land where none existed previously. We believe that Mr Blair, as a vociferous advocate of the invasion, must accept a degree of responsibility for its consequences."
On Blair's achievements as peace envoy, the letter states: "It is our view that, after seven years, Mr Blair's achievements as Envoy are negligible, even within his narrow mandate of promoting Palestinian economic development. Furthermore, the impression of activity created by his high-profile appointment has hindered genuine progress towards a lasting peace."
Speaking to The Guardian, Blair’s spokesperson responded: "These are all people viscerally opposed to Tony Blair with absolutely no credibility in relation to him whatsoever. Their attack is neither surprising nor newsworthy. They include the alliance of hard right and hard left views which he has fought against all his political life."
Blair isn't the sole cheerleader for the 2003 invasion that has failed to offer penitence in recent weeks, with US conservative commentator Bill Kristol, former US envoy to Iraq Paul Bremer, former US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and former US vice-president Dick Cheney, all distancing themselves from the current disintegration of Iraq.