UAE | General

Blair's support for Israel makes it hard for him to be a peace broker

Just hours after stepping down as British Prime Minster, and as expected, Tony Blair was announced the Middle East's Quartet representative.

  • By Nasouh Nazzal, Fuad Ali, Mohammad Shamseddine and Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporters
  • Published: 23:33 June 28, 2007
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Gulf News
  • "(Tony Blair) has a hidden agenda and will only be in favour of exploiting the oil ... his policies are influenced by America," says Malek Mahmoud.
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Ras Al Khaimah/Fujairah/Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Just hours after stepping down as British Prime Minster, and as expected, Tony Blair was announced the Middle East's Quartet representative.

The United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations are hoping that Blair's international standing and his experience in Northern Ireland will be key factors in bringing together a stronger consensus towards peace in the Middle East.

Blair is likely to face serious difficulties in achieving such unison unless he finds a way of shedding his tarnished image as a close US/Israeli ally, an image brought to sharp focus through his unwillingness to publicly support a halt to Israel's war on Lebanon last summer.

Gulf News spoke to some residents from across the UAE to assess to what extent has Blair's appointment raised expectations, if at all.

Gaynor Kruger, a teacher from South Africa, said Tony Blair will not make a good Middle East envoy. "I don't think he will make it. I don't think he has the insight to deal with the Middle East problems."

Nasrullah Khan, 33, from Pakistan, also doubts Blair's capabilities as a peace broker. "I don't think Blair will do it, I don't even think he can bring stability to Middle East. All he and George W. Bush say about peace is just talks, no real actions," he said.

Ali Al Bu Saeedi, a 30-year-old Omani student, said Blair's experience and strong personality may make him popular with some political parties, but he is far from popular with people on the streets.

Al Bu Saeedi said: "[For] many, Blair is associated with the Iraq and Afghan-istan wars and his support for Israel. People have no trust in him as an impartial peace broker and his job will not be helped by the perception that the so-called Quartet is seen as an ineffective entity."

British academic, Dr Mohammad Al Masyabi, 46, has no faith in Blair's intentions or abilities. "When Blair was [the] Prime Minster he didn't show any effort or will to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict."

He added: "I don't think that Blair has the political conviction necessary to achieve a solution, he has in the past shown his policies to be closely allied to Zionist interests in the region."

Malek Mahmoud, a 33-year-old Pakistani operations manager, said Blair's appointment will only make things worse because he is biased against Muslims.

"He should not have been appointed to that position because he has a hidden agenda and will only be in favour of exploiting the oil in Middle East. With his new position, there is more possibility of war because his policies are influenced by America."

Omar Hassan Awad, a Palestinian resident, said: "Should Blair adopt his typical policies, the situation in the entire region will go from bad to worse, so no positive outcome of his tenure should be expected."

There was some support for the former British Prime Minster. Venu Gopal, a 50-year-old driver from India, is convinced that Blair can be his own man. "He is gentle and generous, and I think he will make a good envoy because he already has the experience from his position as the Prime Minister.

"I think he had good intentions [on Middle East] ... but was influenced by America to favour their policies instead," he said.

Ussamah Ahmad Saleem, another Palestinian, said there could be hope of reaching some sort of compromise in the region under Blair, but only if he adopts a more neutral approach.

"Blair should realise the special nature of this part of the world, which should be approached with fairness to achieve relative peace and harmony among its nations."

Gulf News