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Thu 16 May 2019 10:07 AM

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Video: Tony Blair's Middle East legacy explained

Last month, Arabian Business did a cover story on Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, who has been lambasted by critics for his policies in the Middle East while in office and his commercial operations afterwards.

He did give us a rather long interview, and today ABTV's Shruthi Nair elaborates on the top quotes we got from him.

‘The only salvation for the Middle East is ruled-based economies'

Before I explain what he meant by that, let me give you some context. Blair served as a special envoy to the middle east between 2007 and 2015 after he left office. And of course, we all remember him sanctioning the Western invasion of Iraq that has cast the longest shadow over his career.

He now runs the not-for-profit Tony Blair Institute for Global Change with the aim to ‘make globalisation work for the many and not the few’.

According to him, the only way for countries to become economically successful is to cultivate educated populations that are “creative, innovative and open minded”.

He thinks Dubai and Saudi are doing alright in terms of modernisation but asserts that it is important for Saudi to implement the modernisation programme 2030.

“Extremism is on the rise”

“There is an ugliness that has crept into our politics. There are rising strands of Islamophobia, anti Semitism and racism in football. My institute is working on rooting out extremism.”
Blair was responsible for instating the first Muslim ministers and Muslim peers as part of his groundbreaking 1990s Labour party.

Now there are strains of Islamophobia in British society, according to him.

And he was very clear about discrimination and religious tolerance. He thinks these prejudices are not just backward but can also be bad for economies.

“There is extremism all over the Middle East and Africa. The question is how do you stop religion being turned into a political ideology?”

Again, for context let’s just listen to this interview with CNN from 2015.

That was quite an acceptance. As of today, Blair deems it necessary to form an alliance between Islam and those outside of it around certain core principles for “rooting out extremism, wherever it is”

“There are two different forms of Brexit – a soft one and a hard one – and they are very different in their implications.”

So what’s the soft one? Basically, when UK is in the economic structure of the EU but just exits the political structure. But the problem with this is, the UK will become rule takers and will essentially end up losing control.

The hard one is the UK exiting both economic and political structures. The problem here is that the economy will suffer as business has been used to trading in the European market in a frictionless way so when they come out there is going to be problems.

According to him, both options have profound drawbacks and neither is as good as the relationship they already have.

(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)