Daily Telegraph: Tony Blair yesterday accused Iran of arming Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in order to stir “chaos” and inflict more casualties on Western troops. The Daily Telegraph
By David Blair, Diplomatic Correspondent
Tony Blair yesterday accused Iran of arming Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in order to stir “chaos” and inflict more casualties on Western troops.
The Prime Minister’s allegation follows the disclosure in The Daily Telegraph that British intelligence believes that Iran has given the Taliban surface-to-air missiles.
In an article in The Economist, Mr Blair also conceded that al-Qa’eda had successfully manipulated public opinion of those in the West into believing that their own governments were responsible for provoking the terrorist threat.
British troops in southern Afghanistan are heavily engaged against Taliban fighters, many of whom are infiltrating the country from bases in neighbouring Pakistan.
Iran’s Shia regime was once an arch enemy of the avowedly Sunni Taliban.
But common antipathy towards America, Britain and the West appears to have thrust them together. Mr Blair believes that Iran and the Taliban share an interest in killing Western troops inside Afghanistan and are co-operating accordingly.
“In Afghanistan, it is clear that the Taliban is receiving support, including arms from, again, elements of the Iranian regime,” he wrote.
“They believe if they inflict enough chaos, enough casualties of Western soldiers, we will lose the will. It will become another ‘mess’.
“And if it does, the problem will be laid at the door of the Afghan government and its Western allies.” Mr Blair wrote that an “assault on the ideas” behind al-Qa’eda was just as vital as any military campaign. The terrorist network fed off a deep sense of grievance felt by many Muslims towards the West. While they condemned terrorists, Mr Blair said that many Muslims shared al-Qa’eda’s sentiments.
The Prime Minister wrote that al-Qa’eda’s “ideology” was a “perversion of the faith of Islam” but it “plays to a sense of victimhood and grievance in the Muslim world. Many disagree with its methods. But too many share some of its sentiments.”
Mr Blair added that al-Qa’eda had succeeded in encouraging self-hatred and denigration among Western electorates. “The terrorists have successfully warped our sense of what is happening and why. They have made us blame ourselves.”
Mr Blair added: “We can debate the rights and wrongs of removing Saddam.
“The reality is that if you took al-Qa’eda (in Iraq before Saddam’s fall) out of the conflict in Baghdad \u2026 it would be possible to calm the situation.”
He wrote that “probably the larger, part of Western opinion would prefer us to withdraw. That is the extraordinary dulling of our senses that the terrorism has achieved.
“In the Palestinian question who gets the blame for lack of progress? The West. In Lebanon – a crisis deliberately provoked by, again, the same forces – who is held responsible? Israel.”