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15th February 2011
As Iranians call for democracy too (BBC video) guess who is moving the democracy arguments forward in this big ol’, bad ol’ world?
The only British politician who gets it and who always “got it”.
Asked at the start if the democratisation of Iraq has been at the root of these calls for democracy in Tunisia and Egypt, Tony Blair does not respond with – “Considerate of you to say so. Now can I take this noose off?”
Instead he points up that democracy is not incompatible with the desires of Muslim peoples. In response to a later question he turns to Iran. But not in order to direct attention towards the cause of “military intervention” in Iraq. But for this reason –
THE PEOPLE OF IRAN HAVE ALSO BEEN ON THE STREETS TODAY CALLING FOR DEMOCRACY
And guess what – it wasn’t Tony Blair’s doing. Or even America’s.
Blair: Egypt Could Bring Democracy to Mideast (7:39)
Touché – ON DEMOCRACY IN MIDDLE EAST (Post Iraq)
Q: Well, first off, can you take any pride in what is taking place in the Middle East because along with President George W Bush you talked about freedom back as early as 2004 coming to the Middle East. A lot of people said you’re crazy you don’t understand the culture. What do you say to those people now?
TB: What I say is it’s very obvious that democracy and countries that are predominantly Muslim are not in conflict with one another, it is possible to have both, and that’s very exciting. So there’s a moment of huge possibility for the whole region.
Q: I always thought that Twitter was kind of stupid, until I saw what happened in Egypt.
TB: Well this new social media, I mean it is transformative. Now of course, bringing down a regime is not the same thing as then replacing it with something that is stable and democratic and functions effectively. So there’s going to be a long process in Egypt which will basically be handled by the military council in the run-up to what should be free and fair and democratic elections. So you know we’re not past the point of uncertainty and instability. But on the other hand I think what this has shown is there’s a huge desire for people in the region to have the same types of freedoms that we have and take for granted.
TB: “This is a situation in which we’ve got to be very strong and very clear, we’ve got to partner those people in the region who are modernising forces because … this is what makes it a little different from Eastern Europe, you’ve got basically three elements, you’ve got regimes that have often been in power for a long time, somewhat out of touch, but they can be allies of the west. You’ve then got this great democratic, modernising movement. But you’ve also got Islamist forces that would take instability off into a different and negative direction. Our task has got to be to stand up for those modernising democratic forces and in a sense to partner the regimes that are interested in a process of change in making that change in an evolutionary way. You know, I think it’s possible to do but it’s a moment where we’ve got to be quite strong about ourselves too, you know not beat up on ourselves too much but actually realise that a lot of those people protesting out there in the end whatever they say about us what they actually want are the types of freedoms that we have.
3:27 Q: A lot of focus is going to be on other focus on other regimes, could they fall like our enemies. Is there any proof that any regime that is willing to shoot its own people, kill its own people will ever be overthrown? Egypt didn’t, so therefore they were. Jordan won’t, more than likely. But Syria and Iran, regimes we’d love to see turn over, have said to everyone – look, if you try this, it’s gonna cost you your life. What can we do there?
TB: Well, I think what is important especially if this starts in Iran, because let’s be absolutely clear a changed regime in Iran – if the people of Iran were able to elect their government properly and you had a change then in Iran, I simply cannot overstate the importance that would have to peace and stability within the region as a whole. And so I think if this starts as a movement in Iran we’ve got to put the maximum pressure we can on the Iranian authorities, indeed the region will expect us to by the way…
Q: (interrupts): Yeah, but they tried it last year Mr Prime Minister remember? And the United States response from President Obama was timid, I mean … he didn’t really support it as he appeared to support the one in Egypt.
TB: Well I think there’s a changed set of circumstances now as a result of what happened in Tunisia and then in Egypt and so I think this time it will be very important for us to stand with people in Iran and to say to the Iranians – look you have been – cos after all the Iranians were welcoming the protests in Egypt, the Iranian regime – so I think we should be saying to them – well you welcomed it in Egypt, so you should welcome it on your own street and if the Egyptians are moving towards a proper free and fair and independent elections then maybe you should be doing the same in Iran too.
From 5:25, there follows a discussion on David Cameron’s remarks on multiculturalism. Blair repeats what he has said before (for instance in 2006) on the “common space”. A call which Cameron has now re-stated. Hopefully it’ll have more impact than his “Big Society” magical mystery tour.
Tony Blair got some stick for praising Hosni Mubarak as “a supporter of the (Middle East) peace process”
Here, on 31st January, before Mubarak fell, Mr Blair spoke to Nicky Campbell in a 9 minute radio interview. You should listen to all he has to say on these issues before you jump to simplistic conclusions. Unfortunately, for many, simplistic is far easier to deal with than complex.
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)
Tags: democracy, democratisation Middle East, demonstrations in Tehran, Egypt, force for good, Iran, Middle East, Mubarak, Nicky Campbell, Politics of Iran, Tehran, Tony Blair, Touché, transcript, Tunisia, United States, video