Delusional Foreign Secretary William Hague defends record of Western intervention as Iraq descends into chaos
Ministers ducked for political cover yesterday after activists blamed Britain’s own arms sales for fuelling Iraq’s descent into chaos.
In Britain Tory Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs he had spoken privately with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about the crisis which has seen extremist Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) fighters chalk up major gains.
But Mr Hague, who suffered a humiliating defeat last year when MPs voted against attacking Syria, refused to blame the crisis on US-British intervention from 2003.
“I don’t think this entire business should be seen through the prism of Western intervention or not,” he said.
“There are other major forces at work here — the growth of sectarianism in the Middle East, rivalry between different states in the Middle East, the rise of religious intolerance — which are not necessarily provoked or subdued by Western intervention.”
But campaigners said the West’s record of arms sales to US-backed Shi’ite PM Nouri al-Maliki’s repressive government had helped sow the seeds of extremism.
British trade officials alone have signed off more than £43 million worth of military shipments since 2008.
Westminster government records also show a slew of crowd control-related shipments in 2013 as US-backed PM Nouri al-Maliki’s government brutally repressed non-violent “Iraqi spring” protest camps last year.
Exports included tech for shields, body armour, helmets and unspecified “defensive equipment.”
When military-restricted and “dual-use” goods were combined, Britain had signed off on a staggering £86m worth of shipments to a hotbed of sectarian violence over the last five years.
Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German told the Star the latest crisis was a very direct consequence of the West’s foreign policy.
“The truth is this is the kind of thing that was waiting to happen when you have a state created by the US and Britain and backed up with military force without any thought to popular opinion,” she said.
“You’ve got millions of pounds being spent on weapons for Iraq, which is the last thing it needs. This will end with a political solution, not a military solution.”
Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith said it was certain that arms exports to Iraq had played a part in the crisis.
“There’s going to be a lot of things that can be used for suppression and arms companies obviously see conflict as a business opportunity,” he said.
“If you look at Libya it’s the same.
“Gadaffi was armed to the teeth by the West for years, then the West turned on him and he began using those weapons to stay in power.
“The West can’t abdicate responsibility for the way these weapons are used.”
The war-torn region around Iraq has been a byword for bloodshed since Britain and the United States’ invasion in 2003 — but sectarian violence threatens to reach new heights with a series of lightning assaults by Isil fighters.
The group has seized control of four cities, requisitioning cash and supplies from nearby military bases and banks.
Meanwhile the Iraqi national army has offered little resistance, with officials telling reporters that in the city of Mosul two divisions numbering some 30,000 men fled an attack by just 800 fighters.
The prospect of Isil toppling the country’s deeply unpopular leader Mr Maliki has triggered talk in Washington and Westminster of renewed military action.