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Straw admits West's mistake in supporting Iraq against Iran

3/26/02 London, March 26, IRNA -- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has become the first British minister to acknowledge that it was a mistake for the UK and western countries to have supported Iraqi president Saddam Hussein during his eight year war against Iran.

"In the 1980s, many in the West, guided by the principle that 'my enemy's enemy is my friend,' saw Saddam as a useful ally against the threat of revolutionary radicalism from Iran," Straw said, admitting that the "abuse of human rights in Iraq told a different story."

He referred to the Iraqi president's use of chemical weapons against both Iran and ultimately against the country's own citizens as showing "his utter contempt for international law well before the invasion and annexation of Kuwait in 1990."

"It would be too easy for us today to say what our predecessors should have done to spare us these problems. Hindsight with 20/20 vision is a wonderful thing," Straw said.

"The far harder challenge for us is to face the difficult choices before us now, stand up to bullies like Saddam and not leave these problems to the next generation to sort out," he said in an attempt to justify the prospect of the US staring a new war against Iraq.

Straw's admission of the West's misguided policy in backing Saddam in his war against Iraq was made at Monday's launch of a pamphlet on the long-term implications of the September 11 attacks in the US last year.

Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain previously acknowledged for the first time that it was wrong for the British government to have backed the Pahlavi dynasty against the tide of the Islamic Revolution.

"Under the Shah, Britain played a very bad role, propping up and supporting a dictator," Hain said in an interview with the Muslim News in October 2000.

He said it was because of the mistake that Britain had a "very special role" in ensuring Islamic Iran takes its rightful place as a respected member of the international community.

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