‘Hasty’ Blair defends military coup

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Tony Blair has defended the Egyptian army’s decision to remove Egypt’s first elected leader – amid violent protests which have claimed more than 30 lives.

The former prime minister – now the Middle East peace envoy for the US, Russia, the EU and the United Nations – said the alternative would have been “chaos”.

Supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi have vowed to fight until he is restored with little sign a peaceful resolution is on the cards.

Mr Blair said while he supported democracy, “efficacy is the challenge” and the Morsi administration had patently failed to deliver in its first year.

While 17 million people on the streets opposing the regime did not constitute an election, such an “awesome manifestation of power” would prompt the fall of a British government, albeit without military intervention.

The world must “engage” with the interim government to help it deliver badly-needed economic reforms because “we can’t afford for Egypt to collapse”, he warned in an article for The Observer.

And he said one positive to be emerging was that there was “open debate about the role of religion in politics” and “probably a majority for an intrinsically secular approach to government in the region”.

Mr Blair was criticised by Tory former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd.

“Tony Blair leaps in before he’s thought things through. We know that already and he’s done it again on this,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.

“The seizure of power by the military was the second act in a drama that is going to go on and on and on.

“We won’t know for weeks, maybe even months, whether the military... have made a good gamble for Egypt or bad.”

“We need to keep our heads and not rush to judgment. Tony Blair is someone who rushes to judgment.”