US official says all sides regarded Tony Blair as a joke as peace envoy - everyone but Israel rolled their eyes when he was mentioned.
AS RUMOURS of him stepping down as Middle East peace envoy build, insiders claim Tony Blair has “no credibility” and is considered a “standing joke” at whom all sides “just rolled their eyes.”
Blair took on the role of envoy for the so-called Quartet in 2007 after stepping down as UK prime minister.
The Quartet is a peace process-oriented bloc composed of Russia, the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.
It was formed in 2002 to address escalating conflicts in the Middle East.
Speaking on Blair's record in the role, a former US official told The Telegraph that the former PM was widely held to be “a standing joke.”
“Frankly all sides just rolled their eyes at the mention of his name.” He showed up, but was not effective. Honestly, when the Kerry negotiations were going on, it was like he’d wait until Kerry was going to be in the region and show up at the same time and then do press releases. It was sort of unseemly. Of course people met with him – he’s the former British prime minister and head of the Quartet – but beyond the media, there’s was really nothing much doing.”
The ongoing fallout from the 2003 Iraq War – widely held to have contributed to subsequent civil war and the rise of Islamic State – and Blair’s alleged dalliance with a variety of authoritarian regimes have earned him considerable censure.
He has been castigated by human rights activists for advising Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarban on how to manage criticism sustained in the wake of the 2011 massacre of up to 100 striking oil workers in Zhanaozen.
More recently, his closeness to the military-backed regime of Egypt's Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has also been under the spotlight.
In November 2014, staff at global charity Save the Children were enraged when Blair was awarded the organization’s Global Legacy Award.
Two hundred of them signed a letter condemning the award as “morally reprehensible.”
In March, Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, said he was “very sorry” to staff and members of the public who were offended by the decision, branding the issue an “unnecessary distraction.”
Forsyth, a former aide to Blair, told the BBC’s Today program: “I know that many of our supporters and volunteers were very upset and our staff, several of our staff too, and I'm very sorry for that.”
Not everyone was critical of Blair's performance as envoy.
US President Barack Obama’s administration has said Blair is a “valued partner in trying to bring peace to the Middle East.”
One official involved in the peace process conceded: “The Israelis didn’t mind him, because he was heavily tilted toward them, but the Palestinians couldn’t stand him and most of the rest of the peace-making community and other groups included, just rolled their eyes.”
Mr Blair has been under fire for some time, with three former British ambassadors last year backing a campaign for him to be sacked and accusing him of trying to “absolve himself” of responsibility for the crisis in Iraq.