Main facts since 2003
January 7, 2003 – Hans BLIX, head of the UNMOVIC inspectors, tells the Security Council the Iraqi's were not yet proactively cooperating. It was a very critical declaration towards Iraq, "it seems they do not have the least idea on what it means to disarm".
January 9, 2003– Greek Foreign Minister George PAPANDREOU, then President of the EU, announced an EU mission in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine for a diplomatic solution to Iraq crisis. It’s the beginning of the EU's involvement in the search for a peaceful solution.
January 16, 2003 – Wolf BLITZER, American anchorman, hosts a debate on the Iraq crisis on CNN, during which the possibility of Saddam Hussein going into exile is mentioned twice. Participants to the debate are CNN correspondents Peter ARNETT, Bernard SHAW and Arthur KENT, and the director of Time.com Tony KARON.
January 20, 2003 – Jim LEHRER, noted political commentator, hosts a program on the public network PBS, at which partake Donald RUMSFELD, Tom BEARDEN, Mohammed WAHBY, Robin WRIGHT and Judith JAPHE. The title of the program is: "Saddam in exile?".
On the same day, the Radical Party launches the appeal “Free Iraq”, addressed to the Italian Parliament and the international community. The initiative is focused on the exile for Saddam Hussein and subsequently on the establishment of provisional international administration of Iraq, to be given to people at the highest level in the context of what is stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations.
By late January, the appeal “Free Iraq: the only alternative to war” is signed by almost 10,000 people from 120 nations, and around 250 Italian MPs (at the outbreak of war 27,344 citizens have signed from 171 countries, 46 MEPs and 501 Italian MPs, representing 53.5% of the House members).
January 23, 2003 – In a survey conducted by Gallup Poll, 62% of the American respondents declare to be in favor of the objective “exile for Saddam Hussein”. The survey isn't published until March 18th, 2003, after war has already been declared. Why?
January 31, 2003 –Bush and Blair have a two-hour meeting in the Oval Office of the White House. Bush was accompanied by Condoleezza RICE, then national security adviser, Dan FRIED, assistant to Ms RICE, and Andrew CARD Jr., White House chief of staff. Blair was accompanied by David MANNING and Matthew RYCROFT, foreign policy advisers and Jonathan POWELL, chief of staff at 10 Downing Street. Both BUSH and BLAIR see the inevitability of war “within a few weeks, unless Saddam is killed or agrees to leave voluntarily.” In the memorandum of the meeting, written by David MANNING, it is clear that the President considers the invasion of Iraq as unavoidable and marks down the date of the attack for March 10th at latest.
February 5, 2003 – During a worldwide live broadcast, Colin POWELL presents the Security Council with presumed photographic documentation on the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq (later, on September 8th, 2005, Powell will declare that this episode constitutes the indelible stain on his career as an American soldier and citizen).
On the same day and at the same venue, Dominique DE VILLEPIN, French Foreign Minister, makes a step towards seemingly overcoming the grave division within the European Union, proposing to immediately double or triple the UNMOVIC inspectors in Iraq. The proposal arises at a time where the deterrence of not less than 250.000 Anglo-American soldiers in the area could have played in favor acceptance on the part of Iraq.
In reality however, as documented above, BUSH and BLAIR were already deciding on whether the date of the invasion was to be set on the 10th or the 14th of March.
February 7, 2003 – George PAPANDREOU, Greek Foreign Minister and President of the European Union at the time, declares, after a visit to Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, to have raised the possibility of an Arab country offering asylum to the Iraqi leader, thus avoiding the conflict. Furthermore, PAPANDREOU proposes the undertaking of a joint EU- Arab peace mission exactly to Baghdad.
February 8, 2003 – In an article appearing in the FIAT-owned newspaper La Stampa, journalist and writer Igor MAN reports that Silvio BERLUSCONI sent, through the Lybian Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman SHALGAM, a memorandum to Colonel Muammar GADDAFI, asking him to ascertain with Saddam Hussein if he would be willing to accept the exile, or another, solution. The response of GADDAFI to BERLUSCONI, which is positive towards the exile, or an equivalent solution, is officially documented in the minutes of the Spanish ambassador at the meeting of BUSH and AZNAR in Crawford, Texas (at which BLAIR and BERLUSCONI participate telephonically). In fact, if he would not receive timely answers from Tripoli, BERLUSCONI planned to undertake the task of convincing Saddam through an even more direct partner: Tareq AZIZ.
February 12, 2003 – During a hearing before the House of Representatives, Colin POWELL confirms that the USA are studying “where, under what protection and how exactly this operation (the exile? red.) could be conducted. We are not only discussing it, we are currently in contact with several countries who have shown their availability to pass this message on to the Iraqi regime”. It is the first time a prominent member of the White House admits to be not only “encouraging” the Iraqi dictator to leave the country in order to avoid war, but to be actively pursuing the exile objective.
February 14, 2003 – Tarek AZIZ visits Rome, where he meets with Pope JOHN PAUL II in his private library. The Pope reaffirms the Vatican’s position against the war. Aziz will later mention it during his press conference at the Foreign Press Association.
February 19, 2003– The Italian Parliament votes a motion put forward by the Radical members for an exile for Saddam and his entourage. The proposal, which enjoyed the support of the government, received 345 votes in favor, 38 against and 52 abstentions. It committed the Berlusconi Government to promote within all main international bodies, especially the UN Security Council, the option to send the Iraqi dictator in exile and to provide for a temporary UN-led government to restore the fundamental rights of the Iraqi people.
February 22, 2003 – In a meeting at his Texas ranch in Crawford, President BUSH informs Josè Maria AZNAR that Muammar GADDAFI told Silvio BERLUSCONI that Saddam was in fact ready to accept exile. AZNAR insist on the option, while BUSH says that the invasion should proceed on the 10th, and not the 14th of March as proposed by BLAIR. The entire document is of extreme importance to show how and why things were decided.
Were partaking in the meeting other than BUSH and AZNAR: Condoleeza RICE, then National Security Advisor; Daniel FRIED, senior expert on national security and responsible on European affairs; Alberto CARNERO, foreign policy councilor to AZNAR; and Javier RUPEREZ, Spanish ambassador to THE United States, author of the memorandum.
March 1, 2003 –The Arab League holds an urgent summit at Sharm el-Sheik Summit. Sheik ZAYED AL-NAHYAN of the United Arab Emirates was supposed to share with his colleagues the acceptance from Saddam Hussein to go into exile before the invasion ofIraq in exchange for amnesty and protection. The deal was intended to avert the war.Representatives of the UAE had met with Saddam on four occasions, and he appeared serious about a deal, but demanded that the Arab League back the offer officially before he would commit to it. The item was never discussed as Muammar Gaddafi disrupted the meeting accusing the King of Saudi Arabia of being sold to the U.S. boycotting in this way the possibility for the Arab League to put forward the proposal formally.
At the end of the “failed” Arab League Summit in Sharm el-Sheik, George PAPANDREOU recalls: “the war is not inevitable”. He declares the necessity for Saddam to fully comply with the Security Council Resolution n. 1441 and expresses his support to all Arab initiatives towards a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis, with particular mention of the exile or equivalent scenario.
March 10, 2003 – Jack STRAW presents the Blix Report to the House of Commons, 173 pages published by the Swedish inspector on March 6th, 2003. This is the document that would provide the basis on which MPs were going to vote the invasion of Iraq. In his declaration Straw seems to imply that UNMOVIC inspectors have found evidence of anthrax present in Iraq. In such case this would provide the necessary evidence that Saddam at the time did indeed posses Weapons of Mass Destruction.
That very day, Peter LILLEY Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, asks to speak on a point of order to point out that there were only few copies of the Blix Report available for consultation in the Library of the House of Commons, and that they could not be reproduced.
Moreover, in the document he sent to the Chilcot Commission, LILLEY states that during the consultation of the paragraphs in the Blix report indicated by Jack STRAW, he discovered that the retrieval of anthrax traces mentioned by Straw were not in reference to discoveries by the UNMOVIC inspectors in 2002, but to those of the UNSCOM inspectors at the end of 1996 – discoveries that had since long been publicized.
It is unjustifiable that Mr. LILLEY has not been heard or called on his documented critique of the conditions in which Parliament was called to deliberate on this crucial occasion.
March 12, 2003 – According to a declaration by a still anonymous civil servant, published by the Guardian on the 21st of January 2011, eight days before the invasion of Iraq Foreign Minister Jack STRAW reminded BLAIR, during a more or less private meeting, that if the Prime Minister did not want to run the risk of having to resign, he still had an easy “way out” that would allow the UK to avoid armed conflict.
We allow ourselves to point out that this is the same STRAW who contributed to fooling Parliament by lying blatantly about the Blix findings of anthrax traces, while the UNMOVIC chief had absolutely excluded any trace of WMD.
September 22, 2009 – According to a cable leaked by Wikileaks, Jon DAY, General Director of the UK Ministry of Defense, assured the US Foreign Undersecretary , Ellen TAUSCHER that the UK put measures in place to protect US interests during the Iraq Inquiry. In an article published by the Guardian on the 18th of January 2011, Gus O’DONNELL, Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers and thus principal British civil servant, basically confirms the information contained in the Wikileaks cable: parts of the correspondence between BLAIR and BUSH in the months leading up to the war will remain classified.
January 28, 2011 – Gus O’DONNELL, Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers and principal British civil servant, testifies before the Chilcot Commission that Blair infringed the Ministerial Code of Conduct that characterizes the work of Cabinet. “Tony Blair wished to involve Cabinet as little as possible in the discussions because he felt they would have too rapidly become public”, O’DONNELL declared.