Freelance journalist (BBC, RFI, magazines), writer (first book on Massive Attack and Bristol), I work with Raoul Peck on his film projects. Born in Paris, I have been based in Prague, Miami, London, Nairobi (covering Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia) and Bristol, UK. Travelled to Italy, Haiti, Tunisia, Liberia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Niger, Turkey, Iraq... Passions: Africa, Europe, literature, music, arts. This blog is to share thoughts and cultural discoveries from around the world.
Jeremy Corbyn, Tony Blair and the ghost of the Iraq war
Tony Blair arriving at Basra airport in Iraq in December 2004 for meetings with senior military officers. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images
Tony Blair should stand trial on charges of war crimes if the evidence suggests he broke international law over the “illegal” Iraq war in 2003, the Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has said.
Corbyn called on the former prime minister to “confess” the understandings he reached with George W Bush in the run up to the invasion.
Asked on BBC Newsnight whether Blair should stand trial on war crimes charges, Corbyn said: “If he has committed a war crime, yes. Everybody who has committed a war crime should be.”
The veteran MP for Islington North was a high-profile opponent of the war and became a leading member of the Stop the War coalition. He said: “It was an illegal war. I am confident about that. Indeed Kofi Annan [UN secretary general at the time of the war] confirmed it was an illegal war and therefore [Tony Blair] has to explain to that. Is he going to be tried for it? I don’t know. Could he be tried for it? Possibly.”
Corbyn said he expects the eventual publication of the Chilcot report will force Blair to explain his discussions with President Bush in the runup to the war.
He said: “The Chilcot report is going to come out sometime. I hope it comes out soon. I think there are some decisions Tony Blair has got to confess or tell us what actually happened. What happened in Crawford, Texas, in 2002 in his private meetings with George [W] Bush. Why has the Chilcot report still not come out because – apparently there is still debate about the release of information on one side or the other of the Atlantic. At that point Tony Blair and the others that have made the decisions are then going to have to deal with the consequences of it.”
On Newsnight, Corbyn made clear that he is opposed to British involvement in air strikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria. Prime minister David Cameron is hoping to win parliamentary support to extend Britain’s involvement in the aerial bombing of Isis targets from Iraq to Syria.
Corbyn said: “I would want to isolate Isis. I don’t think going on a bombing campaign in Syria is going to bring about their defeat. I think it would make them stronger. I am not a supporter of military intervention. I am a supporter of isolating Isis and bringing about a coalition of the region against them.”