UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says it was wrong-planning on the part of the United States that led to the formation of the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq.
Testifying before the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Hammond said Thursday that Washington’s mass removal of Ba’ath Party admirers from the Iraqi army in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war paved the way for Daesh to emerge.
“Many of the problems we see in Iraq today stem from that disastrous decision to dismantle the Iraqi army and embark on a program of deba’athification,” he said.
“That was the big mistake of post-conflict planning. If we had gone a different way afterwards we might have been able to see a different outcome,” Hammond added.
He told the panel that former Ba’athist officers have defected to Daesh and rank high in the group’s military chain of command, forming a professional core to wreak havoc in Iraq.
The statement comes in the wake of the much-anticipated Iraq Inquiry, or the Chilcot report, that investigated Britain’s most significant military engagement since Second World War.
The report found that former UK prime minister Tony Blair took the country into the US-led invasion of Iraq only based on “flawed intelligence” about former Iraqi dictator Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).
During the war, nearly 120,000 British military personnel were deployed to Iraq with 179 of them killed in combat.
Britain officially ended its involvement in the war in 2009, and Blair received a Medal of Freedom from then US president George W. Bush.
Pressed by the panel to admit that the UK did not stay in Iraq long enough, Hammond said that they were following a big “ambition” in Iraq.
“Maybe it was too great an ambition to dismantle quite a sophisticated country with a long-established civilization, traditions and culture of its own and to recreate a mid-Atlantic construct of what government should look like, often going against the grain of local culture and tradition,” he explained.
This is while according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored, the invasion and its subsequent occupation claimed the lives of more than one million Iraqis.