Diplomats Say Middle East Envoy Tony Blair Has ‘No Credibility in This Part of the World’
The retirement of Quartet Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair can’t come soon enough, according to senior diplomats who told the UK’s Financial Times this week that he is no longer trusted in the region.
“It is long overdue,” said one official who was briefed on discussions to ease Blair out of his position. “He has been ineffective in this job. He has no credibility in this part of the world.”
Another source, who reportedly is close to the Obama administration, said, “Tony Blair is neither an asset nor a liability but his current role is no longer viable.”
The former British prime minister, who has served for nearly eight years as the envoy for the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators, is now reportedly in talks to recast his current role but is determined to stay involved in the peace process. He met with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday and recently with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini to discuss a new position, the Financial Times reported. Blair spoke with Kerry about options that would give him a more political role in the Middle East.
Senior officials in Washington told the publication they wanted Blair to step down over concerns of conflicts relating to his many charitable, diplomatic and commercial endeavors.
No final decisions have been made to have Blair step aside from his role and his office declined to comment on his position, according to the report. A senior western official familiar with the Quartet denied any “”Žeffort to push Blair out of his current role.”
Last year, a group of former British ambassadors joined another campaign calling for Blair to be removed as Middle East envoy, the Daily Mail reported. They cited the possibility of conflicts with his business interests and attempts to “absolve himself” of responsibility for the Iraq crisis. They also accused Blair of wanting to please the Israelis.
A spokesman for Blair responded at the time saying, “These are all people viscerally opposed to Tony Blair with absolutely no credibility in relation to him whatsoever. He believes passionately in the two-state solution but believes that can only be achieved by a negotiation with Israel.”