10 years on, authors of Iraq invasion stand ‘discredited’

Updated 20 March 2013
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10 years on, authors of Iraq invasion stand ‘discredited’

WASHINGTON: They were the men who were to remake the Middle East, but 10 years on, the alliance of politicians and neoconservative thinkers who launched the Iraq war are a discredited band.
GEORGE W. BUSH: As US president and commander-in-chief of American forces, George W Bush bears ultimate responsibility for launching the war to topple Saddam Hussein, an act he perhaps hoped would secure his legacy.
Now 66, and apparently happy to pursue his artistic endeavors in a Texas retirement, the high point of his public life came after the 9/11 attacks when he stood at the ruins of the World Trade Center and defied America’s enemies.
The image of him as a resolute leader with a bullhorn might have lingered longer had he not, two months after the start of the 2003 Iraq war, appeared on the deck of an aircraft carrier under a “Mission Accomplished” banner.
The mission was far from accomplished and Iraq haunted the rest of his presidency, even after his 2004 re-election, bleeding America of men and wealth even as his justifications for the invasion fell apart.
While the Republican leader’s American conservative base largely turned its back on him because of his uncontrolled spending, Iraq ultimately became the main factor discrediting him before a world audience.
TONY BLAIR: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted last month in an interview with the BBC about his support for Bush going into the Iraq war: “I’ve long since given up in trying to persuade people it was the right decision.”
Even more than that of his close US friend, the Labor leader’s entire legacy has been tarnished by a conflict that a majority of Britons opposed even when it was still claimed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
As the most successful left-wing elected politician in British history, always more popular abroad than at home, Blair had hoped for a rewarding post-office life as a consultant after stepping down in 2007.
He did earn lavish fees from international contacts, and some recognition for his work as a Middle East peace envoy, but public appearances in his homeland are often marred by noisy protest.
While he still insists committing British troops was the right call, the 59-year-old admitted last month that the situation today in a still-violent post-Saddam Iraq is “not nearly what it should be.”
DICK CHENEY: While Blair seems pained that the public won’t accept his justifications for going to war, former US Vice President Dick Cheney shows no sign of having any doubts about the decision to fight.
“If you want to be loved, go be a movie star,” he snorts in a documentary movie due for release entitled “The World According to Dick Cheney” and based around a four-hour interview with the unrepentant 72-year-old hawk.
In Bush’s first term, Cheney wielded vast influence as the gatekeeper to information reaching the Oval Office, but saw his influence wane in the second term when even the president began to question his judgment.
But, according to the film, he still refuses to believe Saddam did not have active programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emerged from decades of backroom power politics dating back to Richard Nixon’s White House to become the unexpected star of the 2003 Iraq campaign.
The US press corps fell in love with his often blunt and sardonic briefings, which chimed with the belligerent public mood in the wake of 9/11.
But the needs of the war clashed with his goal when taking over the Pentagon — to cut costs by creating a lightweight, high-tech strike force unsuited to becoming an army of occupation.
As the Iraq campaign unraveled, the force he sent proved unable to contain a mounting insurgency. By 2006, retired generals, apparently speaking for many still in uniform, called Rumsfeld’s war planning “abysmal.”
AHMED CHALABI: Iraqi banker Ahmed Chalabi led the Iraqi National Council, an anti-Saddam exile group. His group is now blamed for having fed the Pentagon much of the false intelligence that once served as the pretext for invasion.
Cheney, Rumsfeld and a group of neoconservative policy-makers and writers hoped Chalabi and the INC might take over Iraq as an interim government after the fall of Saddam, but his group was little-known and little-liked at home.
He settled for a series of lesser government posts in the new Shiite-led government.
In office, he was the one of the main proponents of the “de-Baathification” drive to rid government of alleged Saddam supporters, which alienated Iraq’s Sunni minority and fueled the revolt against US-led occupation forces. Once the darling of the US administration — he was first lady Laura Bush’s guest at the 2004 State of the Union address — Chalabi has since flirted with US foe Iran and become a fierce critic of US policy in Iraq.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: According to several insider accounts of Washington policy-making in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz was one of the first to call for an attack on Iraq as well as on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Now a think-tank analyst, the neoconservative has come closer than most to admitting that the public case for war was designed to maximize support for the invasion.
“For reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason,” he said.


Security alert as Qatari ex-minister linked to terror reappears in public

Updated 16 July 2018
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Security alert as Qatari ex-minister linked to terror reappears in public

  • Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani was photographed in Doha recently autographing a wall portrait of Qatar ruler
  • The Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – placed Abdullah Al-Thani on a list of 59 terrorists being sheltered by Qatar

JEDDAH: The re-emergence in public of a former Qatari interior minister linked to financing and promoting terrorism has rung alarm bells in the security community.

Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani was photographed in Doha recently autographing a wall portrait of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

The Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt  — placed Abdullah Al-Thani on a list of 59 terrorists being sheltered by Qatar. He has been accused of financing several terror operations and of accommodating terrorists, including those involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks, at his farmhouse in Qatar.

Al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of those attacks, moved to Qatar “at the suggestion of Abdullah Al-Thani,” according to the US Department of Defense.

In 1995, Abdullah Al-Thani is believed to have provided funding to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to support him in combat in the Bosnian war. While the US pushed for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest, Abdullah Al-Thani told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed about the growing pressure for his detention, leading to him leaving the country with a Qatar-provided passport on a government executive jet. When he returned, Abdullah Al-Thani was briefly confined to house arrest.

“This man is a big supporter of terrorism and of Al-Qaeda and there is no doubt that he enjoys the patronage of the Qatari regime. His re-appearance confirms all our worst fears that Qatar is a hotbed of terrorists and anti-Arab plotters,” said Saudi scholar and international affairs expert Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri.

“We had no problem with the United States. We were great allies. But Qatar wanted to drive a wedge between our good ties and so, in league with Iran, they supported and facilitated Al-Qaeda's 9/11 operation.”

Al-Shehri said it was not a coincidence that 15 Saudis were selected by Al-Qaeda, Iran and Qatar for the 9/11 operation. “Their primary purpose was to finish our relationship with the United States. With time and painstaking work by other countries it soon became obvious who was pulling the strings of those terrorists, and why.”

"I think it's the right time to put all international pressure on the Qatari regime," said Salman Al-Ansari, head of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC).

Abdullah Al-Thani was among the key links, Al-Shehri said. “When Doha realized it was being exposed it sent Abdullah Al-Thani out of the public eye. But it now seems emboldened enough to bring him back into the public glare. This proves once again that Qatar is the biggest promoter and supporter of terrorism, and that the Arabs, led by Saudi Arabia, have been absolutely justified in snapping ties with Qatar.”

After Saudi Arabia and three other states severed relations with Qatar in June 2017, Al-Qaeda operatives and ideologues came out instantly in support of Qatar. Egyptian Mohammed Shawqi Islambouli, a US-designated terrorist, described Qatar as “the pride of the Arabs.” Abdalrahman bin Omeir Al-Nuaymi, who the US sanctioned in December 2013 for “providing financial support to Al-Qaeda, Asbat Al-Ansar, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Al-Shabaab,” was also among those who rallied in support of Qatar.

On June 4, Al-Nuaymi posted on Twitter: “The latest developments in our region have proven that a state that sows destruction (Saudi Arabia) is inciting the West to sanction states (Qatar) and individuals.”

Al-Nuaymi is a Qatar University professor and former president of the Qatar Football Association. He was also a founding member of a prominent charity — the Sheikh Eid bin Mohammad Al-Thani Charitable Foundation, named after a member of the country’s ruling family. The Telegraph newspaper described him as “one of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers.”

Among the list of 59 individuals and 12 organizations that the ATQ blamed for supporting terror are several who are also sanctioned by international organizations, including the UN. 

Sa’d bin Sa’d Muhammad Shariyan Al-Ka’bi, a Qatari national openly living in Qatar, was designated by the UN in 2015 as a known facilitator and fundraiser for the Nusra Front. Al-Ka’bi’s activities in Qatar, including the arranging of funding and transferring funds are well known and documented, yet the Qatari government has done nothing to stop his actions.

Abd Al-Latif bin Abdallah Salih Mohammed Al-Kawari is a known fundraiser for terrorist groups dating back to the early 2000s. At that time Al-Kawari was associated with Ibrahim Isa Haji Mohammed Al-Bakr, himself a designated terrorist by the UN and US. The two were working in Qatar to raise funds for Al-Qaeda organizations based in Pakistan and Al- Kawari was directly connected to the transfer of funds from Qatar to Pakistan. Al-Kawari has also been associated with fundraising and the transfer of funders to the Al-Qaeda offshoot, the Nusra Front.

One of the major demands made of Qatar by the Anti-Terror Quartet was: “Full withdrawal of all support, shelter and funding for terror and extremist organizations of all kinds.”