Do something, Blair says


“Although we can sit back and watch and wait, if we do that the likelihood is the situation will get even worse.”

That’s Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Britain who stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the American people after 9/11, telling BBC Radio 4 on Monday that the West should get involved in Egypt. …

Blair cited the nation’s economic peril — including the collapse of tourism (which the Trib’s Betsy Hiel has documented) — as a key reason for the allies to support the military regime.

On the $1.5 billion question, Blair respectfully disagrees with Sen. John McCain, saying the United States should keep the annual aid flowing to Egypt.

Blair, who is special envoy to the Middle East for the quartet of peace mediators — the United States, Russia, the U.N. and European Union — does agree with McCain on Syria, however. Blair noted that its civil war has now cost more lives than the Iraq conflict. “Personally I think we should at least consider and consider actively a no-fly zone in Syria,” Blair said.”You know, inaction is also a policy and a decision with consequence.”


Putin, the puddy tat



The British prime minister proclaimed today that “real progress” had been made with Russia on solving the Syrian crisis, the Daily Telegraph reported. “We have a common interest in putting an immediate end to violence,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters.

As David Cameron trekked to Sochi, Putin’s summer residence in the Black Sea, Russia’s foreign minister announced that Moscow would not deliver a missile defense system to Syria, as reports in Russia had suggested.

Is Putin turning into a pussy cat? Foreign Policy recently had fun with Putin.


Game changer in Syria?


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who’s on a tour of the Mideast, told reporters on Thursday: “Our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin.”

The disclosure also was made in a letter to Congress, The Guardian reported.

Sarin, one of the most dangerous chemical warfare agents, is 500 times more toxic than cyanide, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. It was used by Saddam against the Kurds in the 1980s and by a Japanese cult in the Tokyo subway in ’90s.

“I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game changer,” President Obama said last month on a visit to Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side.

The question is, what happens next?