- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that he would have supported President Obama’s push for airstrikes against Syria’s Assad regime in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons, a position putting him out of sync with his former party, which led the push back against the plan.

Mr. Blair, who led the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007, said the goal now is to make sure that Syrian President Bashar Assad honors the U.S.-Russian deal to get rid of its chemical weapons stockpile and that the international community considers how best to resolve the Syrian civil war, which threatens to destabilize the region.

“What is important is to get the result now,” Mr. Blair said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There has been a lot of talk about the elegance of the process. That to me doesn’t really matter — both on Syrian and on Iran and on the Middle East space process. What matters is to get the result. If we get the result, we should all be happy.”

The British House of Commons rejected a proposal last month that would have paved the way for the nation’s involvement in a U.S.-led military response against the Syrian government, putting a major dent in the Obama administration’s hopes of generating broad international support for a strike.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry then opened the door for the Assad regime to avoid an attack if it turned over its complete stockpile of chemical weapons within the next week, Syria could avoid an attack from the United States.
Russia said the request was workable, setting into motion the ongoing negotiations over how best to verify that the Assad regime does get rid of its weapons.

“The pressure is on us, but it is also on Russia, frankly, and on Assad to do what they say they are going to do,” Mr. Blair said.

Mr. Blair was a leading supporter of former President George W. Bush’s push to invade Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction.

The weapons, though, were never found, and situation cast a large shadow over the vote last month in the Commons, where members expressed doubt about intelligence indicating that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on its own people.



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