On Friday morning former prime minster Tony Blair was questioned about his relationship with the Muammar Gaddafi regime.
Speaking before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee he was asked about phone conversations he held with the dictator before his execution by rebel militias.
“It has been presented as if I was trying to save Gaddafi, I wasn’t trying to save Gaddafi…my concern was not for his safety my concern was to get him out of the situation.”
Blair, who played a large role in the UK’s decision to join the Iraq war, would not say whether he supported prime minister David Cameron’s decision to bomb Libya. Leaving office in 2007, he kept close links with the Gadaffi regime despite numerous human rights abuses as he wished to bring Libya “in from the cold.”
The NATO bombing mission was declared a success in October 2011, but since Gadaffi was overthrown Libya has been embroiled in a prolonged civil war and economic turmoil. Numerous terror attacks, such as the Sousse attack that killed 30 British holidaymakers, has added to the instability of the state. Last year numerous cities declared their support for the Islamic State.
With regards to Syria he argued:
“I think there’s evidence that Assad did take the view that Gaddafi having cooperated with the West and then being removed was a lesson that he should learn and he, of course, did not give up his chemical weapons because we know he used them against his own people.”
Blair has continued to work with dictators – his management consultancy lists the authoritarian regimes of Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nuzarbayev as a client – and after Egypt’s coup by military strongman Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, he accepted an advisor role to help with “economic reform.” He stated that he had no business interests during the time of his phone call to Gaddafi.
Recently Blair has been on the charm offensive, defending his Labour government’s military record and rightward shift in a blog post. With the Chilcot Inquiry (a report on the legality of the Iraq war) creeping closer to publication, and the stark difference in opinion by current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Blair has attempted to retroactively justify his actions.