UK

Tony Blair Told 'Shortcuts Cannot Be Taken With Guns And Missiles' After Demanding Intervention, Again

23/04/2014 10:53 BST | Updated 23/04/2014 15:59 BST

Tony Blair has come under fire after demanding, yet again, that the West intervene in Syria and simultaneously forget about international tensions over Ukraine, to instead focus on the "growing" danger of religious extremism.

Blair insisted Wednesday that failing to "take sides" with moderates in the Middle East and North Africa could mean the 21st century is dominated by conflict rather than peaceful co-existence.

But, speaking to The Huffington Post UK, the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) dismissed the former prime minister as a "tired voice", whose over-enthusiastic comments on intervention are "certainly not helping" deescalate international tensions.

tony blair

Chris Doyle, the director of Caabu, wearily told Huff Post he "didn't know where to start" with Blair's latest speech.

"His comments are not unfounded, it's his cure that is the issue," he said.

Blair – a peace envoy – said today the West had a "responsibility but also an interest" in making sure that "huge struggle" was "resolved in the right way".

"However much people may think we can just push it to one side and forget about it, I think that would be a mistake. Above all, we have to commit. We have to engage," he told the BBC.

In his speech in London, he emphasised on the "growing" danger from religious extremism – and the West's apparent "reluctance" to fight it – the former prime minister called for the issue to be elevated to the "top of the agenda", rather than the ensuing crisis in Ukraine.

But Mr Doyle said Blair's dramatic call to arms was far from beneficial in the battle against radical Islam, commenting: "Remind me, how has Al Qaida fared since Blair's invasion of Iraq?"

"Obviously there is a problem with the messenger here, and people won't like what he has to say. But ultimately his comments do not help in bringing people together – this kind of speech alienates, rather than builds necessary links."

Mr Doyle added it was "unfair" to accuse the West of being reluctant to fight extremism, and that Blair was simply looking for "shortcuts" to a complex issue.

"I have no problem with Blair raising the issue of extremism being an on-going issue, it's important to acknowledge that we're not out of the woods yet," he said.

"We have young Britons fighting in Syria, we faced the Woolwich attack last year – it's important not be complacent, but with Blair's record, he should know by now that he has to be far more reserved.

"We're facing very difficult issue and it will take time and effort to resolve, shortcuts cannot be taken with guns and missiles."