[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Reporters' round-up: Blair legacy
As UK Prime Minister Tony Blair reveals his plans to stand down as Labour leader and prime minister, BBC correspondents around the world assess his foreign affairs legacy.


Tony Blair visits British troops in Basra in 2006
In the Middle East, Blair will forever be linked with the Iraq war
In the Middle East, even more than at home in Britain, Tony Blair will forever be linked with the war in Iraq and the alliance he made with George W Bush.

In retirement, Mr Blair will have a warm welcome in the palaces of the leaders of Western allies like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

But the vast majority of Arabs to whom I have spoken since Iraq was invaded in 2003, from wealthy businessmen to the poor filing into the mosques, believe the actions of Messrs Blair and Bush have been disastrous. Anti-Western feeling across the Middle East is stronger than it has ever been in modern times.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East where both the leadership and the people appreciate Mr Blair. Many Israelis agree with his view that there is a titanic struggle in the world going on between democracy and extremism, good and evil.

They like the way he used Britain's position in the UN Security Council to delay a ceasefire to buy more time for them to attack Hezbollah during last summer's Lebanon war.

Mr Blair's most tangible achievement was probably the way that after the Iraq invasion he pushed the Americans into accepting the so-called "road map" to Middle East peace, which was a step-by-step diplomatic plan to create a Palestinian state.

President Bush never put the prestige of his office and the power of his country behind the road map, which is moribund, still invoked as the way forward but never even partly implemented. But Mr Bush speaks often of the need to create a Palestinian state, and that might be Mr Blair's influence.


Tony Blair and George Bush
The initial bond between Bush and Blair was forged after 9/11

The bond between George W Bush and Tony Blair, one of the most defining and controversial relationships of modern politics, started with humble toothpaste. At their first meeting in Camp David they discovered a mutual affection for Colgate.

"So what?" the world shrugged. We wondered how the close friendship between Mr Blair and Bill Clinton could ever be matched by the man with the Texan swagger. How wrong we were.

Their initial bond was forged in the dust of 9/11, when the president singled out the prime minister as a special friend. Then came Afghanistan and, of course, Iraq, in which Mr Blair proved himself by far the most willing member of the coalition of the willing.

In fact the British ambassador to Washington once told me that "if he wanted to, the prime minister could veto this war". But he didn't and the war went ahead.

The two shared far more than we had imagined - a devout faith in God, a devout conviction in the creed of liberty and the same chilling view of the threat posed by Islamic extremism.

Britain played Athens to America's Rome. Mr Blair was cherished in Washington as a more polished and articulate version of Mr Bush. Even Democrats loved him, remembering that he had once also been a close friend to Mr Clinton, whose "third way" politics he emulated.

In fact, at times it seemed as if Mr Blair was a reflection of whichever leader happened to be in the White House.

George and Tony differed on matters like climate change, the peace process in the Middle East, debt relief and the importance of the United Nations.

But ultimately it was their alliance on Iraq, and the failures of the war, that entrapped them in the trenches of unpopularity - and that in years to come will define their legacy.

In the meantime, Mr Blair can be sure to enjoy a far more loving reception in the US than at home, as well as the inevitable treasure-trove of lecture tours.


Tony Blair seems almost self-satisfied with his European policy. It is not just hubris. Britain's long-standing policy of extending EU membership to new countries has not been stopped, as some members wished.

The reuniting of East and West has meant Britain has new allies. They, like the UK, are not keen on an ever-deeper union. Like Britain, they do want more economic liberalism and a better relationship with the US.

It is not spin or falling for the Government's line to say that some of the EU's most important policies started with Mr Blair. He dropped Britain's long-standing opposition to an EU energy policy so that fighting climate change could be put at the centre of the EU agenda. It is the most important initiative for some years.

The European Commission's enthusiasm for more competition, more economic liberalism and eye-catching initiatives to help consumers are straight from the Blair hymn book.

Mr Blair's political passing may be mourned more in Brussels than in some other European capitals. But there's an irony here. From Paris to Berlin hearts are pumping, if not with love, at least to the Blair beat, with leaders who want to sort out Europe's economy.

And if other EU prime ministers and presidents sometimes thought Mr Blair lukewarm about their grand project, they may realise, with Gordon Brown and David Cameron waiting in the wings, that the water separating us from them is about to get a little colder.


Iraqi views on Tony Blair's departure reflect how polarised the country has become.

Even if he has done nothing else in his life, he has done something very important in helping overthrow Saddam Hussein, the worst dictator in the world
Hamid al-Saadi, Shia MP

They also track the sectarian divide fairly closely.

Iraq's majority Shias largely praise the British prime minister for his role in toppling Saddam Hussein from power, despite criticism of the way the aftermath of the invasion was handled.

Among the Sunni minority, there is still deep anger at the decision to join President Bush in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"We welcome Blair leaving," says Dr Amar Wajih, an MP with the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni faction in parliament.

"He is one of the key figures behind this unjust war, which has brought disaster and catastrophe."

He had expected Mr Blair and the British to do better and make up for US mistakes. "We hope whoever replaces Blair will be better." He had not heard of Gordon Brown.

An MP from the largest Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, takes the opposite view.

Hamid al-Saadi says: "Even if he has done nothing else in his life, he has done something very important in helping overthrow Saddam Hussein, the worst dictator in the world."

On the streets of Baghdad, though, most people seemed indifferent to Mr Blair's impending departure. The day-to-day struggles of surviving amid the chaos and violence that grip the city four years on from the US and British invasion are uppermost in people's minds.

"For three days I haven't been able to fill my car with petrol," said one man angrily, as he drove off to find another petrol station.

"I can't find any cooking gas either. These are the important things. And you ask me what I think about Tony Blair leaving."


Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin in 2006
British-Russian relations are now at a post-Cold War low
Tony Blair took the unusual step of visiting Vladimir Putin even before Mr Putin was president of Russia.

He was the first Western leader to do so.

Mr Blair travelled to St Petersburg - Mr Putin's home town - in March 2000. At the time, Mr Putin was only acting president. He was confirmed in office by a large majority two weeks later.

The two men apparently became friends.

During his visit, Mr Blair went to the opera. It was an adaptation of "War and Peace."

That could have been considered a bad omen.

As Mr Blair leaves office, British-Russian relations are at a post-Cold War low. While there are successful business ties, political and diplomatic relations have suffered.

The murder in London of the former Russian secret service policeman Alexander Litvinenko is the main, recent, reason for growing mistrust. Any attempt to apportion blame has led to outraged denial.

Then there is Boris Berezovsky. Russia wants the extradition of the tycoon and former Kremlin insider. His claim last month that he was planning the overthrow of President Putin provoked fury here in Moscow. He had been granted political asylum in Britain. There seems little prospect he'll have to return to Russia.


Tony Blair in Debre Zeit
Mr Blair during a visit to Ethiopia 2004
In 2001, Tony Blair famously described Africa as "a scar on the conscience of the world ". So began his campaign to place the reduction of poverty in Africa on the global agenda.

He formed the Commission for Africa which produced a 450-page report in 2005. Later that same year, many of the Commission's recommendations were taken up by the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations at their summit at Gleneagles in Scotland, when the United Kingdom held the presidency of the G8.

South Africa's Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, who was a member of Blair's Africa Commission, says its strength was that it drew together a number of people truly committed to Africa.

"It was written largely from an African perspective," he said.

"The ideas were tested quite broadly with Africans, not only the commissioners, but with a range of other policy makers on the continent, and this has given the report durability and resonance."

The G8 leaders duly promised a doubling of aid to Africa by 2010, total debt cancellation for the poorest nations, and moves to ease the constraints on world trade.

However, Kumi Naidoo, a South African-based civil society activist, says Prime Minister Blair lacked adequate support to push the process forward.

"What Blair did not have was willing partners in other G8 countries. In particular, the Bush administration was a major spoiler and one of Blair's failings was his inability to exploit the so-called special relationship that exists between the UK and the US."

Nonetheless, Mr Blair does get much credit for establishing a new partnership between Africa and the West. However, Chris Landsberg from the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg is concerned that progress has been limited.

"With the exception of the 18 countries that received debt forgiveness promises, 14 of them African states, it's really been a disappointing show in terms of translating promises into commitments".

From Our Own Correspondent looks at Tony Blair's legacy

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific