London: The fall of Egyptian president
Hosni Mubarak could be a pivotal moment in the spread of
democracy across the Middle East, peace envoy and former
British prime minister Tony Blair said on Sunday.
But he warned that the West had to engage with both
protesters and governments in the region to ensure that it
capitalises on a "moment of excitement but uncertainty."
"This is a moment where the whole of the Middle East
could pivot and face towards modernisation and democracy and
that would be a huge benefit for all of us," Blair told the
"We should have a strategy of engagement with the
democratic, modernising forces across the region. We should be
helping countries evolve and move in the direction of change."
Blair said that a "benign" new administration in Egypt
could unblock the peace process between Israel and the
Palestinians, especially if it helps modernising elements in
the Palestinian Authority.
He warned, however, that the region could "either go
towards an open-minded, modern type of democracy, let`s hope
that it does, or it could be swung into something narrow and
extreme and closed-minded.
"I think there`s every possibility that we get the
first and not the second and our purpose as the West should be
to engage insofar as possible to bring about that more benign
scenario," he added.
The ex-premier also defended Mubarak, who stood down
on Friday after weeks of protests against his authoritarian
three-decade rule, as a stabilising force.
"You can`t invite him to the White House five months
ago, and I was there with President (Barack) Obama, as a
partner in peace and them simply forget all that," he added.