Jeremy Corbyn will apologize for Iraq War if elected leader

Labour Party leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn © Peter Nicholls
Labour Party leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn says he will issue an apology for the 2003 invasion of Iraq if he is elected.

Corbyn, who posed staunch opposition to the war when Tony Blair led the party, told the Guardian the invasion had been undertaken “on the basis of deception” and planned to issue a formal apology on behalf of the party if he is elected.

He said the decision to go to war had lost the party millions of voters.

It is past time that Labour apologized to the British people for taking them into the Iraq war on the basis of deception and to the Iraqi people for the suffering we have helped cause. Under our Labour, we will make this apology,” he wrote in a statement to the newspaper.

“It has also lost Labour the votes of millions of our natural supporters, who marched and protested against the war.

“We turned our backs on them and many of them have either withheld their votes from us or felt disillusioned, unenthusiastic and unmotivated.”

The MP for Islington North also suggested British military interventions overseas would be less common if he became leader. Such a stance could block Prime Minister David Cameron from seeking parliamentary approval to extend airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) targets from Iraq into Syria.

“Let us say we will never again unnecessarily put our troops under fire and our country’s standing in the world at risk. Let us make it clear that Labour will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law.”

The statement was praised by Stop the War Coalition, who said an apology was "long overdue".

However, Iraqi citizens have been so far underwhelmed by the promise. 

Speaking to the Guardian Iraqi citizen Rasool al-Lami said  the apology was meaningless.

I don’t care about any apology,” he said. “What can I do with it after all of the people we lost here in Iraq? We are living in a mess, among thieves.

“Everyone is looting the country and fleeing. Nothing is left – no people, no money and nothing to be happy with. I don’t want an apology. The British will apologise and repeat the same mistake again and it’s our loss. It’s a shame they invaded Iraq. We had a simple life but now we aren’t living anymore.”

Corbyn has also been forced to defend comments he made in an RT interview from June 2014 about a British intervention in Syria. News outlets allege Corbyn compared the brutality of IS militants to the behavior of the US Army in Iraq.

In the interview, Corbyn is asked what aid could be given to Iraqi forces to help them regain control of IS-held areas.

It requires a sense of unity among people in Iraq that want to stay part of Iraq and also an acceptance and an understanding why so many people in so many of the cities in the north have been prepared to accept the ISIS forces.

“Yes they are brutal, yes some of what they have done is quite appalling, likewise what the Americans did in Fallujah and other places is appalling,” he replied.

Corbyn was forced to reiterate his stance when the comments attracted criticism on Thursday.

Jeremy Corbyn believes the violent ideology of ISIS is a vicious, repugnant force that has to be stopped – where Jeremy Corbyn talks about the need for a political solution and compromise he means not with ISIS but against ISIS, working across the region and beyond to choke off supplies that help fund and arm them and working with neighboring states in the region to come to common solutions,” a spokeswoman for Corbyn said.

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