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WATCH: Anger and tears as Iraqis give their verdicts on Tony Blair

MEE travelled to the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf to ask Iraqis their opinions on Tony Blair ahead of the Chilcot report
"Tony Blair is not a good person" said Abdul Rasool at the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala. (MEE/Alex MacDonald)

The release of the Chilcot report on Wednesday has reignited calls for Tony Blair to face charges over allegedly misleading the country over the case for war and for the conduct of British forces during the occupation.

Millions of words have been written and said about the war from the perspective of the UK, but what do Iraqis feel about Tony Blair and the war in the run-up to the report's release?

Middle East Eye travelled to southern Iraq to speak to Iraqis in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala and find out their views on Blair 13 years after the invasion.

Many initially welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, who had ruled the country with an iron fist for decades. 

The Shia of Iraq, who make up the majority of the population, faced particular repression under Saddam’s rule and his removal led to an explosion in Shia political and religious consciousness.

But the war and its aftermath still provoke strong feelings within Iraq.
 
"Tony Blair did not bring anything to Iraq other than destruction," Nasser Jabbar Farhan, a teacher from Karbala, told MEE. 
 
The invasion “did not help the Iraqi people at all,” said Abu Hamad Tamimi, speaking in the grounds of Karbala’s Imam Hussein shrine. “If we had stayed with Saddam Hussein it would have been better. [Blair] entered Iraq and then afterwards occupied it. He came to screw things up, not to build the country.”
 
Despite the introduction of parliamentary elections and freedom of speech, the rise in lawlessness, militant violence, power shortages, sectarianism and other negative fallout from the war means that many now view the invasion with bitterness.
 
Abdul Rasool said when Blair backed the US-led invasion he was not thinking about the Iraqi people. "He is only thinking about America. What is useful for America they do. They don’t do anything useful for Iraqi people.” 
 
Bookseller Abu Iskandari al-Jaafari said Blair helped liberate Iraq from the regime of Saddam Hussein. "Tony Blair as a prime minister was a very good person for his country and helped Iraq, contributed something to Iraq but we did not think things would end up like this."
 

'Occupier not liberator'

Al-Jaafari said Iraqis wanted to be freed from Saddam Hussein, but “those who came to Iraq are not competent to govern Iraq.”

Others complained that electricity and water were still not working years after the war and the health and living standards of Iraqis had suffered due to the invasion.

Farhan added: “He [Blair] came as an occupier not a liberator.

"The infrastructure was destroyed."