By RICHARD HARTLEY-PARKINSON
Ten years after 9/11 Tony Blair says Iran is a greater enemy to the civilised world than Al Qaeda
Tony Blair has said that he believes regime change in Iran is necessary and there needs to be military intervention if it acquires nuclear weapons capability.
While Al Qaeda poses a significant threat to people across the world he believes the bigger evil is Iran which ‘support groups that are engaged with terrorism and the forces of reaction’.
Speaking ahead of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 the Prime Minister said that for the sake of international security, President Ahmadinejad must be ousted from power.
‘If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability it would destabilise the region very, very badly.
‘If they were to do that – even now in Iraq they’re still interfering where they can and as much as they can. I think regime change in Tehran would immediately make me significantly more optimistic about the whole of the region,’ he told The Times.
Mr Blair, who is now peace envoy for the Middle East, blames Iran for the lengths of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts – wars that he led the UK into alongside America.
In January, Blair told the Chilcot inquiry that force might be necessary to deal with the treat from Iran and he still stands by that view.
‘Yes. The threat Iran poses to the stability of the region is immense,’ he said.
Answering criticisms that people in Iraq and Afghanistan, although oppressed, had stability he said that before terrorism is defeated dictatorships have to be toppled.
Turning to the situation in Syria and the Arab Spring he said that the revolutions had shown that there is a thirst for democracy and freedom.
He said that President Bashar Assad has shown he cannot take Syria through the process of change and must give up power and is unable to invoke reforms.
Mr Blair stopped short of suggesting Libya-style military intervention in the country but implored the international community to ‘do everything it can now to hasten that’.
He said: ‘His position is untenable. I was saying even two or three months ago, if he genuinely showed that he was prepared to lead a process of reform, then I would give him the chance to make the evolution work.’
However, he adds that it will be difficult for Assad to start making political reform towards democracy as he knows that at the end of the process he would not be elected as president.
He concludes by saying ‘I believe we will win [global freedom and democracy] but it’s going to take time.