He said, in his opinion, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was legal – a view rejected by critics who say it violated international law – but was of "questionable legitimacy."
"It did not have the democratically observable backing of the great majority of member states, or even perhaps of the majority of people inside the U.K.," he said.
In London, an anti-war rally in 2003 drew an estimated 2 million demonstrators – the largest street protest in a generation.
media watchdogs said the action was more likely taken in response to the station’s programming, which had at times been critical, or satirical, of the Iraqi government.
The move by security forces is an ominous sign for the country’s press, which, for the first time in decades had been enjoying relative freedom.
The media here is now freer than Syria’s or Iran’s and less partisan than, say, Lebanon, where most of the media outlets are owned or controlled by politicians of various stripes. Basking in this freedom, both news and entertainment programs regularly push the boundaries.
In an Iraqi version of "Punk’d," for example, which aired on Baghdadiya, actors played pranks on celebrities that often involved fake car bombs, checkpoint harassment and live bullets.
As the celebrities screamed and fainted on screen, and readers complained, Punk’d Baghdad-style might not have been a good idea. But it did come from a lively, growing culture of media freedom.
One Iraqi journalist, one among hundreds that worked with Western news agencies in Baghdad, has worked in media for years, but tells no one in his neighborhood about it.
“If they knew, I would be a target for militias, for Al Qaeda, and even for Iraqi security forces,”
Jillily said that journalists have increasingly found their access curtailed by Saddam-era laws that remain on the books. A journalist was arrested in the southern city of Kut earlier this year, he said, for publishing an article criticizing the judicial system, and was only released after he denied that he had written it.
“There are many people trying to bring back the times of dictatorship to Iraq,” he said, “…you can’t expect a government that has politicians who are deeply corrupted to give freedom for journalists.”
Some things became clear to both myself and the president as the world leaders increased their rhetoric against us. They were going to invade anyway.
"Bush and Blair lied intentionally. They were both pro-Zionist. They wanted to destroy Iraq for the sake of Israel, not for the sake of the US and Britain.
When asked why Saddam kept the US guessing about his weapons programme, he confirmed the dictator's account to his captors that he had been playing to Iran, not to the west. "Partially, it was about Iran [the deterrent factor]," Aziz said. "They had waged war on us for eight years so we Iraqis had a right to deter them. Saddam was a proud man. He had to defend the dignity of Iraq. He had to show that he was not wrong, or weak.
"Iran was our biggest enemy. We had to defy them whatever the cost. Now Iran is building a weapons programme. Everybody knows it and nobody is doing anything. Why?"
Pressed on whether pride over wisdom had been a main factor in his country's destruction, Aziz replied: "We are Arabs, we are Arab nationalist. We must be proud."
Iran playing a smart game
Within days of the withdrawal, Sadr, who lives in self-imposed exile in the Iranian city of Qom, was told by the Iranians to reconsider his position as a vehement opponent of Maliki. Sadr's party in Iraq had won more than 10% of the 325 seats in play at the election making him a powerbroker in the formation of any new government.
The push initially came from the spiritual head of the Sadrist movement, Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, who has been a godfather figure to the firebrand cleric for the past 15 years.
"He couldn't say no to him," said the official. "Then the Iranians themselves got involved."
Days after the Iranian move, an Iraqi push followed. Throughout September Maliki sent his chief of staff to Qom along with a key leader in his Dawa party, Abdul Halim al-Zuhairi. They were, according to the Guardian's source, joined by a senior figure in Lebanese Hezbollah's politburo, Mohamed Kawtharani, as well as arch-US foe General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Al-Quds Brigades, whose forces the US military blames for causing more than one quarter of its combat casualties in Iraq throughout almost eight years of war.
It is understood that the full withdrawal of all US troops after a security agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington at the end of 2011 was also sought by Sheikh Nasrallah.
"Maliki told them he will never extend, or renew [any bases] or give any facilities to the Americans or British after the end of next year," a source said.