Britain’s Prime Minister has called for Iran and Syria to help stabilise Iraq or face international isolation. During a major foreign policy address in London, Tony Blair suggested that the continuing sectarian violence is fuelled by forces beyond Iraq’s boundaries. “A major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself, but outside it, in the whole of the region where the same forces are at work, where the roots of this global terrorism are to be found, where the extremism flourishes with propaganda that maybe indeed is totally false but is nevertheless attractive to much of the Arab street,” Blair told the Lord Mayor’s Banquet.
But he said there would be no softening of policy. Both countries must renounce terrorism and, in Iran’s case, national nuclear ambitions.
“We offer Iran a clear strategic choice,” he went on. “They help the Middle East peace process not hinder it, they stop supporting terrorism in Lebanon or in Iraq, they abide by not flout their international obligations – in that case a new partnership is possible. Or, alternatively, they face the consequences of not doing so: isolation.”
Blair also said a broad strategy for the troubled region must start with addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He went on to confirm that the UK’s close relationship with the US, which saw a coalition force invade Iraq in 2003, would continue.
Blair will outline his opinion to the influential US-based Iraq Study Group via videolink later today. The group is due to give recommendations on future US strategy in Iraq by the end of the year.