A decade after the start of the Iraq war, Mohamed ElBaradei, who was International Atomic Energy Agency chief at the time, wonders if the world has learned its lesson
“Ten years on: Iraq war remains a global act of deception,” Mohamed El-Baradei, the Egyptian opposition leader who was director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) when the war began, has said via Twitter.
On the eve of its tenth anniversary, ElBaradei described the war on Iraq as a sign of a “dysfunctional global security system, an inconsistent criminal justice system, and a colossal disregard for civilian victims,” and wondered if the international community had learnt its lesson.
On 19 March 2003, the United States and coalition forces, primarily from the United Kingdom, invaded Iraq to get rid of the regime of Saddam Hussein that was accused by the Bush administration of possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and no WMD were found.
ElBaradei, who won the Nobel peace prize in 2005, has been accused by his opponents in Egypt of giving legitimacy to the war because the IAEA failed to say there were no WMD in Iraq, which was already suffering under sanctions.
Known in Egypt since 2010 as an advocate of political and social reform, El-Baradei has defended himself on many occasions, saying the IAEA never claimed the Saddam government possessed WMD and never gave the US the green light to attack Iraq. El Baradei left the IAEA in September 2009 and returned to Egypt a few months later to become a symbol of the anti-Mubarak movement that had begun a year after the war on Iraq started.
El Baradei is the founder of the liberal Constitution Party and one of the founders of the National Salvation Front, Egypt’s largest opposition umbrella movement. The war on Iraq is still used by El Baradei's opponents as a weak spot with which to attack him.