Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for Western nations to work with Vladimir Putin in the fight against radical Islam. In a keynote speech to Bloomberg, Mr Blair said that “whatever our differences”, we must work together to fight Islamism, which is the biggest threat to world peace.
Blair even came close to suggesting the West should ignore the Ukraine crisis, as building an alliance between East and West to fight Islamism is more important. He stated that the UK and other countries should examine “how we should be building alliances to achieve this, including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and co-operate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China”.
The Daily Mail reported that Mr Blair was close to expressing regret over the Iraq War, acknowledging that it has made it harder to win public for military action in the Middle East.
But he also said that “The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world.
“It is destabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful coexistence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively.”
He was fiercely criticised for defending last year’s military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, and warned: “The Muslim population in Europe is now over 40m and growing. The Muslim Brotherhood and other organisations are increasingly active and they operate without much investigation or constraint. Recent controversy over schools in Birmingham (and similar allegations in France) show heightened levels of concern about Islamist penetration of our own societies.”
Mr Blair’s aides insist that he is not calling for new military action in the Middle East, but for a more coherent policy in dealing with Islamist extremism.
Blair said: “Underneath the turmoil and revolution of the past years is one very clear and unambiguous struggle: between those with a modern view of the Middle East, one of pluralistic societies and open economies, where the attitudes and patterns of globalisation are embraced; and, on the other side, those who want to impose an ideology born out of a belief that there is one proper religion and one proper view of it, and that this view should, exclusively, determine the nature of society and the political economy.”