Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Reuters/Gus Ruelas)
What began as an ordinary Friday night for a barman at an upscale London steakhouse ended on a more dramatic note after former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair entered the establishment.
Twiggy Garcia, a barman at London’s trendy Tramshed, apparently thinks about much more than just mixing cocktails.
Ever since visiting a website devoted to arresting Blair, Garcia said he has “fantasized” about making a citizen’s arrest against the former premier for “crimes against peace” in Iraq.
“I had been waiting for the opportunity after seeing the website arrestblair.org, and it just so happened we were in the same place at the same time,” Garcia explained to the Independent, a British daily. “I believe Blair is responsible for the mass murder of Iraqi civilians after taking our country into an illegal war.”
The website offers a reward of 8,500 pounds to anyone who can “arrest” Blair.
Garcia explained how his “heart rate increased” when he learned of Blair’s “eerie presence” in the restaurant, before he saw his opportunity to arrest the former Labour leader.
“[Blair] was sitting at the head of a table upstairs with about eight other people eating dinner. I think he was out with his family and a few friends,” Garcia said. “I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Mr. Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge.’”
Blair, 60, who earned the nickname ‘Teflon Tony’ for his uncanny ability to deflect criticism, performed some verbal gymnastics on the bartender as he twisted the discussion to the situation in Syria, where a years-long civil war continues unabated.
Garcia said Blair “kept changing the subject and talking about Syria” before advising him, “I think you should be more concerned about Syria.”
“I didn’t expect him to start debating with me. I think he actually believed the lies that were coming out of his mouth.”
At this point, Garcia realized the debate was coming to an end when one of Blair’s sons “went to get the plain-clothes security from downstairs.”
“I decided to get out of there sharpish… I quit my job there and then,” Garcia explained.
A spokesman for the former PM told the Independent, “There is nothing to report here apart from the fact that Mr. Blair did offer to discuss the issue. That offer was declined and the individual walked off. Nothing else happened. Everyone is fine and they had a great time.”
Twiggy Garcia is the fifth person to have made an attempt to arrest Tony Blair, who is now serving as a Middle East peace envoy.
“It will keep people from forgetting he is a war criminal,” the bartender said, explaining his motivation to attempt a citizen’s arrest on the British statesman. “I hope one day he faces his charges in The Hague. People seem to think those laws only apply to Nazis and African warlords.”
Tony Blair continues to be hounded publicly by activists who say he is to blame for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the war in Iraq, which is still suffering violence today following a nearly nine-year military operation begun by the US military in March 2003.
Critics of Blair’s decision to join the United States in the military campaign against Iraq point to the so-called Downing Street Memo, a record of a meeting in July 2002 between British intelligence and the office of Tony Blair that some say is the ‘smoking gun’ that proves the former premier followed Washington into war despite bad intelligence.
The memo, quoting Sir Richard Dearlove, director of the UK’s foreign intelligence, revealed that Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military force, “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.”
However, “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
Then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw informed Blair that “the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.” Straw then suggested that “we should work up a plan” to produce “legal justification for the use of force.”
Today, one of the many tragic consequences of the war in Iraq, which has transformed into a sectarian battle between Shia and Sunni militants, not to mention outside terrorist forces with ties to Al-Qaeda, has been an unstoppable wave of violence that continues to leave thousands of innocent victims in its wake.
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