World reacts to Chilcot report on UK's role in Iraq

The report of the British inquiry into the Iraq War presented by John Chilcot has drawn reactions from abroad, which are interesting both for what they say about the report and what they don't.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Victoria Jones (L), a relative of a British soldier killed in Iraq, holds a copy of The Report of the Iraq Inquiry, by John Chilcot, at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London, Britain July 6, 2016.

Unsurprisingly, the release of the Chilcot report concerning the UK’s role in the Iraq War has already had a significant impact on domestic politics in the UK – particularly with respect to the opposition Labour Party which led the country into the war.

But the report has also drawn reactions from abroad, which are interesting both in what they say about the report and what they don’t.


There was little in the way of a response from the Iraqi Government to the release of the report.

This is probably mainly because attention in the country is still focused on the aftermath of recent attacks in Baghdad’s Karrada District which killed over 250 people, but may also be due to the fact that the current Iraqi Government owes its existence to the decision to oust of the regime of Saddam Hussein and prefers to play this down.

British soldiers patrol a road in Basra, Iraq, on February 21, 2007. (Reuters)

Despite the muted reaction from the government, several Iraqis spoke to the BBC and The Guardian after the release of the report, sharing conflicting views on its content and the invasion of their country.

One of them, Ali Mahmoud al Muwalli from Baghdad, told the state broadcaster, "Most of what the Chilcot report says is already well-known by Iraqis, but it has increased the certainty of the Iraqis that the invasion of the country was irrational and illogical."

A police officer attached to Iraq’s Interior Ministry interviewed by The Guardian, Colonel Ahmed Hassan, said, "There is no excuse for [the decision to invade]. It was an extermination war." 

US Army Sgt. Mark Phiffer stands guard duty near a burning oil well in the Rumaylah Oil Fields in southern Iraq, in this April 2, 2003, photograph released by the US Navy.

However, Tariq Aljeburim, who was a student in the UK when the war began, told the BBC:

"When Britain invaded, we were scared that Saddam might attack us, the middle and south of Iraq, with chemical weapons.

"I think it is disgraceful to blame Tony Blair for what is happening now in Iraq. The bad situation in Iraq now is not Blair's fault, it's America's fault."


Russia opposed the Iraq War and is currently at loggerheads with Britain and the West, so it’s not surprising that the Russian embassy in London took the opportunity to gloat following the release of the report:

During a press briefing on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, “a glance at the report is enough to confirm what Russia has said during many years: we called the invasion in Iraq illegal and unnecessary."


Along with other Western countries, France came under heavy pressure from the US and UK in the lead up to the Iraq war to support a UN resolution allowing the invasion of Iraq in the lead up to the war.

The French Government under then president Jacques Chirac refused to do, souring relations with the administration of then US president George W Bush and attracting heavy criticism within the country.

For this reason, France’s ambassador to the US, Gérard Araud, hailed the report as a vindication of his country’s position at the time:

The report has also attracted considerable attention from the press in Germany, another European country and American ally which resisted pressure to join the war.

Writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, German journalist Stefan Cornelius said, "The Chilcot report is a cool and accurate reckoning of the decision of the British prime minister to go to war and presents his former government with a calamitous testimony with regards to its professionalism and decision-making."

Amnesty International

Speaking on the report Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:

“While the Chilcot Report did not strictly focus on human rights, any meaningful assessment of the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath cannot ignore the devastating human rights legacy it has left for millions of Iraqis.

"The UK and US governments cynically used Saddam Hussein’s appalling human rights record – as documented in Amnesty International reports – to help build public support for going to war. Their conduct during the occupation soon laid bare their hypocrisy in exploiting human rights rhetoric."


The invasion of Iraq was carried out without the authorisation of the UN Security Council. Speaking in London, spokesman for the UN Stéphane Dujarric said on July 7:

"The Chilcot Inquiry is a national process. I think the idea of looking into the decisions that led to important critical decisions of the past including those that led to the start of the conflict in Iraq is a very important exercise, and valuable lessons learned for current and future policy makers. We ourselves, will look at the report, we'll take it into account any lessons that are relevant to the UN."


Despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that the US features prominently in the Chilcot report and is implicitly blamed for many of the mistakes in the lead up to and aftermath of the invasion, the country’s government has been largely silent over the report.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby deflected questions about the report with the following response:

"The Chilcot Committee was an independent body appointed by the Government of the UK. Questions about the inquiry or those who participated should be directed to the Committee."

US State Department spokesman John Kirby during a press briefing in Washington DC, US July 1, 2016. (Reuters)

One of the reasons the report took over seven years to be prepared and published is because the UK Government feared its contents could damage relations between the US and UK. Kirby’s curt response suggests such fears may have had some basis.

A spokesman for former George W Bush stated on July that although the former US president was busy and hadn't been able to read the report, he "continues to believe the whole world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power."

TRTWorld and agencies