Former British PM wanted to leave Kurds alone against Saddam Hussein's attack
According to recently released classified documents, former British Prime Minister John Major, who was concerned about a Saddam Hussein all-out attack on the no-fly Kurdish zone in northern Iraq in 1996, intended to leave the Kurds alone in the face of a possible attack by the Iraqi toppled dictator.

According to confidential documents released by the British government on Wednesday, the British government, led by John Major, in 1996, which was concerned about the country's involvement in a full-scale war with Saddam in northern Iraq, wanted to leave the Iraqi Kurds alone against Saddam Hussein's regime.

The British government's secret messages from 1995 to 1997 were recently published by the British National Archives, partly on the issue of Britain's continued presence in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq after the establishment of the no-fly zone.

"The Americans may want to react militarily, if Saddam's forces intend to occupy Iraqi Kurdistan in the north, but very simply, we cannot support this," wrote John Holmes, special secretary to then-Prime Minister John Major in a secret message in November 1996.

The United States and its allies, including Britain, had previously established a no-fly zone in northern Kurdistan against Saddam Hussein's airstrikes by creating a safe zone in northern Iraq.

AFP wrote about the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan at the time: "At that time, as rival factions in Iraqi Kurdistan were engaged in military clashes and Saddam Hussein had entered the region in favor of one of the parties, he might have wanted to launch a massive offensive to take back this region from the Kurds."

John Holmes, noting that the then-Iraqi leader had begun a large-scale military incursion into the region months ago, could have created a political stalemate for Britain. For this reason, "the current reality may force us and the Americans to leave northern Iraq."

Although John Holmes, John Major's secretary, called the abandonment of the Iraqi Kurds in the face of Saddam's attack inhumane, he wrote: "we have no other choice and none of us – the US and Britain – is ready to stop Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq."

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