Envoys ‘warned of Iraq invasion nightmare’
By David Blair, Diplomatic Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:04am BST 03/05/2007
Every British ambassador in the Middle East warned the Government that invading Iraq would be a “nightmare” and turn popular opinion against the West, a former envoy has told The Daily Telegraph.
Sir Ivor Roberts, now the president of Trinity College, Oxford, saw a selection of the telegrams sent by Britain’s envoys in the Middle East when he served as ambassador to Ireland before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
As Britain and America massed their forces on Iraq’s borders, these telegrams to the Foreign Office contained the ambassadors’ considered advice on the wisdom and likely consequences of going to war. Some were circulated to every British envoy in the European Union and reached Sir Ivor’s desk in Dublin.
To the best of his memory, the assessments offered by Britain’s representatives in the Muslim world were unanimous. “Every ambassador in a Middle East post accurately predicted what a nightmare invading Iraq would be,” he said.
“The telegrams I saw were full of doom and gloom about the consequences.”
Sir Ivor did not “check them off one by one”, but believes that every ambassador “from the Arab world or the Muslim world was anticipating how disastrously it would play in their countries at both public and government levels”.
Sir Ivor did not see all the secret telegrams emerging from Britain’s embassies in the Middle East. But British ambassadors in EU countries were on the Foreign Office circulation list for “quite a large amount of traffic”.
Sir Ivor, who retired last year, called for an official inquiry into the war in Iraq. “How we landed up in this mess is going to be the subject of a long inquiry, I hope,” he said.
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