Tony Blair stated his view on how the fight against ISIS must continue in the future.
Britain and its western allies must be prepared to send ground troops to “crush” Islamic State forces or risk a terror attack in Europe of “such size and horror” that draconian security measures would have to be introduced, Tony Blair has said.
In a lengthy article on the Brussels bombings, the former prime minister said local forces could be used against Isis in Iraq, Syria and Libya. But he said western ground forces would eventually be needed to defeat Isis as it sought to create a caliphate.
He wrote:” Ground forces are necessary to win this fight and ours are the most capable.”
Blair suggested that Britain may need to go further, at least in Iraq and Syria. He wrote: “We are making progress in the fight against Isis but it has to be eliminated with greater speed and vigour. This ‘caliphate’ is itself a source of recruitment. We can use local allies in the fight, but they need equipment and where they need active, on-the-ground, military support from us, we should give it. The Americans are doing this now – at least to a degree and with effect. But to have allowed Isis to become the largest militia in Libya right on Europe’s doorstep is extraordinary. It has to be crushed.”
Blair issued a stark warning of the dangers of failing to defeat Isis. He wrote: “We will have periodic but increasingly frequent acts of terrorism that will result in many more victims and start to destabilise our political and social cohesion. Eventually the terrorists will commit an act of such size and horror that we will change our posture; but by then the battle will be much harder to win without measures that contradict our basic value system.”
The former prime minister said the military fight against Isis should be part of a wider strategy to confront what he called the “perversion” of the Islamic faith by the ideology of Islamism. He said people should be careful talking about tackling violent extremism because Islamism was a “much broader problem of ideology”, whose supporters run into the millions across the globe.
Blair wrote: “The reality is that the adherents of this view of Islam are numbered in many millions, have, in some countries, elements of official support, and are systematically teaching it to millions of young people across the world … This ideology is not interested in coexistence. It does not seek dialogue but dominance. It cannot therefore be contained. It has to be defeated.”
Blair said Islamism could be defeated by marshalling an alliance within Islam. “Many Muslims are speaking out and as they do, others gain confidence and follow; because the majority of Muslims hate the way their faith has been hijacked. And never forget the majority of terrorist victims are Muslim.”