Blair: Radical Islam Is A 'Global Problem'
Tony Blair Office


The former prime minister warns a global campaign to defeat the forces of radical Islam will take a generation. 

Tony Blair has told Sky News that radical Islam is a "global problem" that will take a generation to defeat.

Speaking to Sky's Adam Boulton from New York, the former prime minister said defeating the forces of radical Islam will need a "global response".

"I think President Obama is doing absolutely the right thing in assembling the broadest alliance against Isis," Mr Blair said, referring to Islamic State militants.

"(But) even if we deal with this Isis group, you've got a plethora of these types of groups, not just in the Middle East but in North Africa and elsewhere in the world.

"Looking at this broader issue of radical Islam ... this is a global problem.

"It requires a global response and it's going to take a generation - not one president or one prime minister - to defeat it."

Rafale fighter jetFrance and the US have launched airstrikes on IS positions

Mr Blair's comments come after he said Britain should not rule out sending ground forces into Syria and Iraq to counter the threat posed by Islamic State.

In a 6,500-word essay, he said that while no desire existed for ground engagement in the region, airpower alone would not be enough to defeat the group.

"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.

"Airpower is a major component of this to be sure, especially with the new weapons available to us. But - and this is the hard truth - airpower alone will not suffice.”

The militant Islamist group has made rapid territorial gains across the region and released graphic videos depicting the beheading of two US journalists and British aid worker David Haines.

The US and France have already launched airstrikes against IS targets, and the UK has not ruled out joining the bombing campaign.

Alan HenningFormer taxi driver Alan Henning is being held by the group

But despite having already bombed targets in Iraq, France has ruled out extending its strikes into Syria. 

Mr Blair said the lessons learned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had improved Western forces' "capacity and capability" to respond to the threat of IS and similar groups.

"To those who say that after the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq we have no stomach for such a commitment, I would reply the difficulties we encountered there are in part intrinsic to the nature of the battle being waged," he said.

"And our capacity and capability to wage the battle effectively are second to none in part because of our experience there."

Former taxi driver Alan Henning, from Manchester, is currently being held hostage by IS after he was kidnapped in the Syrian town of al Dana while volunteering with a humanitarian aid convoy.

The group has threatened to kill Mr Henning and warned Britain and America not to get involved in another Middle East war

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