ElBaradei should face trial for Iraq war role: Brotherhood's El-Erian

Ahram Online, Tuesday 9 Apr 2013

Essam El-Erian, leading member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, calls for prosecution of prominent figures involved in 2003 US invasion of Iraq – including opposition icon Mohamed ElBaradei

Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei (Photo: Reuters)

Leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Essam El-Erian on Tuesday accused opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, along with several world leaders, of facilitating the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and demanded their prosecution by an international court.

El-Erian, vice chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, accused former British prime minister Tony Blair, former US state secretary Colin Powell and former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi of having been instrumental to the US invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq ten years ago.

"Defendants should also include the one [ElBaradei] who covered up for the scandal... without saying one honest word that could have saved Iraq from invasion," El-Erian asserted.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its men, including ElBaradei, who served as agency director for 12 years, should be tried," he said.

El-Erian's allegations were met with criticism by many commentators on online social-media networks, who accused the Islamist leader – who had earlier voiced support for ElBaradei – of "hypocrisy."

“If Mohamed ElBaradei runs in [Egyptian] presidential elections... then we [the Muslim Brotherhood] will definitely vote for him," El-Erian said in a 2011 interview on Egypt's Al-Qahira Wal-Nas television channel.

In other footage dating from before Egypt's 25 January 2011 revolution, El-Erian referred to members of the Mubarak regime who attacked and defamed ElBaradei as "a handful of saboteurs."

"ElBaradei was director-general of the IAEA and is well-respected worldwide," El-Erian asserts in the footage.

Known in Egypt since 2010 as an advocate of political and social reform, ElBaradei has repeatedly defended himself from charges that he facilitated the US invasion of Iraq.

The IAEA, he has said, never claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – Washington's main justification for the invasion, later proven erroneous – and never gave the US a green light to attack the country.

In March 2003, on the eve of the invasion, ElBaradei told the UN Security Council that IAEA inspectors had concluded that Iraq had not attempted to acquire uranium.

ElBaradei left the IAEA in September 2009, returning to Egypt a few months later where he became a symbol of the anti-Mubarak protest movement that began shortly after the Iraq invasion.

He, along with several political figures – including some from the Muslim Brotherhood – soon founded the National Association for Change, which called for constitutional reform.

ElBaradei is also the founder of the post-revolution liberal Constitution Party and a co-founder of the National Salvation Front, Egypt's largest opposition bloc.

On the recent tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, ElBaradei described the US war on that country as sign of a "dysfunctional global security system, an inconsistent criminal justice system, and a colossal disregard for civilian victims."

On 19 March 2003, the US and its coalition partners, led by the UK, invaded Iraq with the aim of overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime, which was accused by the George W. Bush administration of possessing WMD.

Although tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed in the invasion and its aftermath, no WMD were ever found.

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