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Blair warns 'airpower will not suffice' in battle IS

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Airpower alone will not defeat extremists like the Islamist State militants currently holding large swathes of territory in northern Iraq and parts of Syria, Tony Blair has said.

In an essay, the former Prime Minister wrote: "Air power is a major component of this, to be sure, especially with the new weapons available to us.

"But - and this is the hard truth - air power alone will not suffice. They can be hemmed in, harried and to a degree contained by air power. But they can't be defeated by it."

Mr Blair, whose premiership came to be defined by the Iraq War, acknowledged there was "no appetite" for ground engagement against IS.

But he warned: "You cannot uproot this extremism unless you go to where it originates from and fight it."

Blair: West should commit troops to fight extremists

Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014 Credit: Reuters

Western powers including the United Kingdom and the US should be prepared to commit ground forces in the fight against extremists like the Islamic State, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

In an essay, Mr Blair argues that air strikes alone will not be enough to defeat IS or similar groups, and while training and equipping local fighters may work, the option of sending in combat soldiers should not be ruled out.

Mr Blair, whose premiership came to be defined by the Iraq War, acknowledged there was "no appetite" for ground engagement against IS but warned: "You cannot uproot this extremism unless you go to where it originates from and fight it."

He said the struggle against Islamist extremism should be seen as an international fight rather than a series of isolated conflicts, comparing it to the fascist and communist ideologies of the last century.

In an essay on his Tony Blair Faith Foundation's website the former premier also stressed the importance of engaging with a wider spectrum of radical Islamism, not just the violent fringe.

He said because extremists such as IS - formerly known as Isis - are "fanatical" and "prepared both to kill and to die" there could be no solution that does not involve force "with a willingness to take casualties in carrying the fight through to the end".

"This is where we get to the rub. We have to fight groups like Isis," he said.

"There can be an abundance of diplomacy, all necessary relief of humanitarian suffering, every conceivable statement of condemnation which we can muster, but unless they're accompanied by physical combat, we will mitigate the problem but not overcome it."


Former PM Tony Blair welcomes Gaza ceasefire

Former prime minister Tony Blair has welcomed the announcement of an open-ended ceasefire in Gaza.

The Middle East peace envoy congratulated the Egyptian government on its successful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian factions.

The Quartet will now concentrate on a long-term plan for Gaza and for its reconstruction, including the effective and efficient reopening and reconnection to the outside world under the authority of the Palestinian authority government.

Such a plan will enable a proper and decent life for the people of Gaza, as well as protect the security of the people of Israel.

It is only tragic that such a ceasefire has come too late to save the lives of so many innocent people.

– tony blair, middle east peace envoy

Tony Blair could face public inquiry over on-the-runs deal

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Credit: PA

Former prime minister Tony Blair could be called before a parliamentary inquiry to explain a 'secret' deal he made with Sinn Fein during the Irish peace process, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The deal saw 200 letters of assurances sent to fugitives known as 'on-the-runs' telling them they were not wanted by the police in the UK.

However, it did not rule out future prosecutions if new evidence emerged.

MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee are investigating the collapse of the case against John Downey, who was wrongly assured he was not wanted, when in fact Metropolitan Police were looking for him in connection with the 1982 Hyde Park bombings.

The Committee may now seek Mr Blair to give evidence as his role in orchestrating the deal is coming under increasing scrutiny.

Senior MP calls for Tony Blair to be impeached over Iraq

Tony Blair should be impeached for misleading the Commons on the eve of the Iraq war, the UK's most senior MP has said.

Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell said backbench MPs should use their "ancient" powers to haul the former prime minister before Parliament.

Former prime minister Tony Blair is currently Middle East envoy. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Sir Peter, who first entered the Commons in 1959, was one of a handful of Conservative MPs to vote against the Iraq war in 2003.

He challenged David Cameron to act during Prime Minister's Questions today, but Mr Cameron failed to directly address the query.

Boris Johnson says Tony Blair 'has gone mad' over Iraq

Boris Johnson has launched a pointed personal attack on former prime minister Tony Blair over his claims that the current conflict in Iraq is not linked to the West's 2003 invasion.

Boris Johnson has launched a pointed personal attack on former prime minister Tony Blair . Credit: PA

In his Daily Telegraph column, Mr Johnson said Mr Blair had "finally gone mad" and his "unhinged" attempt to rewrite history is undermining arguments for Western intervention in Iraq.

"In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help," the London Mayor added.

He said that by refusing to accept that the 2003 war was "a tragic mistake", "Blair is now undermining the very cause he advocates: the possibility of serious and effective intervention.

"Somebody needs to get on to Tony Blair and tell him to put a sock in it, or at least to accept the reality of the disaster he helped to engender. Then he might be worth hearing," Mr Johnson concluded.


'Allies deserve help' former ambassador says

A former British Ambassador to the United States has supported former Prime Minister Tony Blair's calls for the international community to look at a renewed military intervention in Iraq.

Sir Christopher Meyer told ITV News Britain does not want to "get caught in someone else's civil war", but said Iraq as an ally should be given "appropriate help".

ITV News Political Correspondent Romily Weeks reports:

Ming Campbell: Blair 'flies in the face of common sense'

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ming Campbell criticised Tony Blair for the claims that lack of intervention in Syria, not the 2003 Iraq war, is to blame for rise of Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

"To suggest that this has nothing to do with the instability which we now see in Iraq in my view flies in the face of common sense," the veteran politician told ITV News.

Tony Blair has rejected claims that invading Iraq in 2003 is linked to current violent insurgency.

Nigel Farage calls Tony Blair an 'embarrassment'

Ukip leader Nigel Farage dismissed Tony Blair as an "embarrassment" who should hold his tongue - and added he is opposed to Western military intervention in Iraq or Syria.

Ukip's leader Nigel Farage called Tony Blair an "embarrassment". Credit: Tim Goode/EMPICS Entertainment

Mr Farage was commenting on the former PM's claims that lack of intervention in Syria is to blame for rise of Islamist insurgents in Iraq.

The Ukip leader said Mr Blair's "state of outright denial of the obvious consequences of his disastrous decision-making on Iraq is making increasingly uncomfortable viewing."

"In almost every country in which the West has intervened or even implied support for regime change, the situation has been made worse and not better," he said.

Tony Blair: The West must engage with Syrian war

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said that while there were "perfectly legitimate" debate about the role of the US/UK invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam in 2003, it was important to look at the events in Iraq in relation to the war in Syria.

Read: Iraq violence 'result of inaction over Syria'

Speaking in a pre-recorded interview on BBC1's Andrew Marr show, he said the single biggest worry for security forces in the UK and across Europe was the threat of returning jihadist fighters from Syria.

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