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Blair attacks Miliband Syria stance
Ed Miliband's stance on military action against Syria has come under fire from Tony Blair and a former Cabinet minister.
The ex-prime minister made clear that he disagreed with the Labour leader's handling of the issue, warning that the country could become a breeding ground for extremists if Bashar Assad's regime was not confronted.
However, he also admitted that the long and bloody struggle which followed the invasion of Iraq had left Britain "hesitant" about getting involved.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Blair said he was "disappointed" that the Commons had rejected a Government motion paving the way for direct action. "This is something where I just have to disagree with the leadership of the party," he said. "I know it's a difficult position for political leaders to be put in when they have got to take decisions like this."
Mr Blair said without foreign intervention "you will have an Assad-dominated state, and that means in this instance an Iran-dominated state, probably around the borders of Lebanon and controlling most of the wealth of Syria".
"Then you'll have a larger geographical hinterland to the east that will be controlled by various Sunni groups, most of whom are likely in these circumstances to be extreme, and you could have a breeding ground for extremism actually much worse and much more potent than Afghanistan," he added.
Mr Blair said there was no question that chemical weapons had been used, and that Assad's forces were responsible.
Meanwhile, former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw said many Labour MPs felt "uneasy" that the UK's options had been limited after the Government's shock defeat in the Commons.Writing in the Guardian, he made clear that he blamed David Cameron for "petulantly" ruling out direct intervention immediately after losing the vote. But he also expressed alarm that Mr Miliband was following the Prime Minister's lead rather than taking a "sensible and measured approach".
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "Mr Blair's contention that public disquiet in the UK in relation to military action against Iraq can be put down to the aftermath of military action is undermined by three facts.
"First, the military action was justified on the basis that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction which were a danger to the UK, which was just plain wrong.Second, that the war against Saddam Hussein was illegal and contrary to the UN charter.Third, that the intelligence presented to Parliament and public was couched in such a way as to fit our policy decision already taken wholly contrary to principle. The aftermath certainly didn't help public perception but it was not the only compelling reason for public disillusionment."