Tony Blair gives backing to Egyptian military coup, criticises Brotherhood and calls for international community to support leadership

The former British Prime Minister's comments came during a visit to Cairo in order to discuss the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in Egypt

Tony Blair has given his firm backing to the Egyptian government and called for the international community to get behind the leadership in the country, after a meeting on Wednesday with military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The former British Prime Minister's comments came during a visit to Cairo in order to discuss the Middle East peace process and the situation in Egypt.

During an interview with Sky News Arabia, Mr Blair, who had previously given his backing to Hosni Mubarak, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of "taking the country away from its basic values of hope and progress".

He also gave his support to the actions of the military, who helped to depose Mohamed Morsi last July, saying they had acted "at the will of the people".

"This is what I say to my colleagues in the West: the fact is, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to take the country away from its basic values of hope and progress," Mr Blair said.

"The army have intervened, at the will of the people, but in order to take the country to the next stage of its development, which should be democratic, we should be supporting the new government in doing that."

Mr Blair first defended the Egyptian army's decision to remove Egypt's first elected leader last year. In comments then Mr Blair said the alternative to the military coup would have been "chaos".

At the time of his original comments he faced heavy criticism from, amongst others, the former Tory Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, who said: "We should not go out of our way to clap our hands and say 'That's marvellous' as Tony Blair has done. We should keep our counsel, keep our wits about us, and wait for the last act of the drama which may be some years away."

Speaking today Mr Blair said: "We should support those people in the region who want the open-minded society and the modern economy. That means we support the government here in Egypt."

“My view is, when I look at the region, I see it as one picture with different parts to it, but there's one big picture, which is: can we in the Middle East achieve societies which are open-minded and economies that are modern, that provide jobs for young people, that allow the potential of a country like Egypt to be fulfilled?"

“...So my view is, when I look at the region I see it as one picture with different parts and right here in Egypt, I think it is fundamental that the new government succeeds. That we give it support  in bringing in this new era for the people of Egypt. And … you know we can debate the past and it’s probably not very fruitful to do so, but right now I think it’s important the whole of the international community get behind the leadership here and helps.”

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