Architect of Iraq invasion Tony Blair says 'not sensible' to disrespect Qatar

Architect of Iraq invasion Tony Blair says 'not sensible' to disrespect Qatar
Tony Blair has said it is 'not sensible' to disrespect World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar, who 'invest a huge amount of money' in the UK.
2 min read
29 November, 2022
Blair has been labelled a ‘war criminal’ by critics after launching invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan [Getty]

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of the architects of the Iraq invasion, has said it is "not sensible" to overtly criticise World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar.

Blair said those attending the World Cup - the first in the Arab world - should "engage with the country and be prepared to be there".

It comes after a backlash in some sections of the British and European media to Qatar's hosting of the World Cup and alleged rights abuses by the host nation. Some of the criticism has been deemed "Islamophobic" and "orientalist" by people in Qatar and the Arab world. 

Blair, who during his premiership between 1997 and 2007 launched invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan leaving hundreds of thousands of dead, said he believes the UK is in danger of "going over the top" in its judgments of the Gulf state.

"I think it's not sensible of us to disrespect Qatar… this is their biggest event that they've held… it's a huge event for the country," Blair said on an episode of The News Agents podcast, released on Monday.

"They are allies of ours, they do invest a huge amount of money in this country… I think we’re in danger of going over the top on this."

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When host Emily Maitlist cited Western concerns over corruption, ill-treatment of migrant workers, and a lack of LGBT rights in the region, Blair said this point has been made by media, and now it is "important... we move on".

Blair's critics fired back, referring to him as an "expert about going over the top in the Middle East", referencing the invasions which tainted his political legacy.

The former premier – who has been labelled a 'war criminal' by activists for the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq - previously admitted he "may have been wrong" over the assaults on Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq. He has still failed to issue an apology for the invasions.

The World Cup 2022 began on 20 November and will end on 18 December.

The tournament has stirred many debates among activists about "double standards", "hypocrisy" and "Islamophobia" in the western media.