'If Iran was benign the Mideast's problems would be solvable'

Former British PM Tony Blair tells AIPAC conference Iran is key issue preventing conflicts in Middle East from being resolved.

Gary Willig,

Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Reuters

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for a new approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking, and blamed the Ayatollahs' regime in Iran for the intractability of the Middle East's problems at the AIPAC annual policy conference Sunday.

“If you had a benign regime in Iran, all of the problems in the Middle East would be resolvable,” Blair said.

Iran is involved in some fashion in numerous conflicts throughout the Middle East. It provides funding and weapons to the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, as well as to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and controls the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon. Iran is also a key ally of Bashar al-Assad and has supported his regime militarily in the Syrian civil war which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

"We have to push back hard” against the Iranian threat, Blair said.

Blair, the former Quartet envoy to the Middle East, also said that the time has come to find a “new way forward” on Arab-Israeli peace.

“We’re not going to reach peace in the old way,” Blair said. “Up to now, people thought if you do a peace deal, then the circumstances will change. I think it’s the other way around.”

He said that Israel and the Sunni Arab states must unite over common interests if they are to achieve true peace.

“The key to transforming the Middle East is to have relationship between Israelis and Arabs which can be open, above the table, acknowledged in which Israel’s existence is accepted and Israel works closely with Arab states.

“What I would like to see is a new alliance in the Middle East — a strategic partnership with the leadership of the United States of America, in which we say this what the battle in the Middle East is about. It’s against extremism, in favor of mutual respect across boundaries, race, faith and culture. And if we want the Middle East to succeed, we need to base this new partnership not just on interests, but on basic human values of dignity, respect and tolerance for all.”


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