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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Mideast press mulls Blair Quartet role
Picture of Tony Blair
Mr Blair is heading for a new role in the Middle East

Arab newspapers are largely critical of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's appointment as an international envoy to the Middle East, questioning his credibility and highlighting his past support for US policies in the region.

But Israeli commentators welcome the appointment, calling Mr Blair the right man for the job.

Beyond the region, there are positive views on Mr Blair's new role, but these are tempered with caution over the likely difficulties he faces.

ABDEL BARI ATWAN IN PAN-ARAB AL-QUDS AL-ARABI

The appointment of Tony Blair by the international quartet group as its Middle East peace envoy once again confirms the determination by Western countries and the US in particular to provoke the sentiments of Muslims and Arabs and continue with their bad policies which have led to the bloody chaos currently prevailing in the region... Muslims and Arabs should raise their voices in opposing Blair whom President Bush wants to transform from a war criminal into a peace propagator.

ABDEL RAHMAN AL-RASHID IN PAN-ARAB AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT

Dozens of international mediators have passed through the Middle East and never come back. They went and the issue of Middle East conflict became bloodier and more complicated. Why does Tony Blair think he will succeed where the rest have failed?

MUHSIN MUHAMMAD IN EGYPT'S AL-JUMHURIYAH

Blair will not do anything except maybe travel between the Arabs and Israel. Blair will not succeed because he has no power, authority or position, so nobody will listen to him, especially Israel, as it perfectly knows that it can rejects all of Blair's suggestions without being blamed by, or forced to adopt any opinion, by America... What does Blair really have to be able to impose an opinion on Israel? The answer is nothing.

ABDEL MAJID SUWALIM IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM

I find it strange that Blair is not taking any time off before assuming his new position as the Quartet's special envoy. I find it even stranger that he is not properly preparing himself for this difficult mission. The only explanation I can find is that he was appointed to this position because of his identity, which comes at the expense of the issues he will need to discuss.

SAUDI ARABIA'S ABHA AL-WATAN

Blair now has a great opportunity to improve Britain's image, which has been shaky since the Balfour pledge and completely distorted since the occupation - not the liberation - of Iraq and Afghanistan.

UAE'S AL-KHALIJ

The appointment will not change much in the Quartet's effectiveness, directions or results, as this committee in doing nothing except adding more conditions that burden the Palestinians political future and destiny. The Quartet's members have sold themselves to the US Administration... Blair, who was unable to offer anything new for the Quartet when he was the British prime minister, will not be able to do anything now, while he has no real power whatsoever.

WALID NUWAYHID IN BAHRAIN'S AL-WASAT

The problem with Blair has never been an internal one... However, he has failed in his foreign policy and his controversial alliance with the worst US Administration in American modern history.

HANAN HAMAD IN SYRIA'S TISHRIN

Failure has become the main title of the western handling of our region's causes, and lying and misleading are the main characteristic of such western policies, and no one is more capable of personifying failure, lies and misleading than the couple Bush-Blair.

YAEL PAZ-MELAMED IN ISRAEL'S MA'ARIV

The states of Europe and more so the members of the Quartet have long ago got sick and tired of the long war between Israel and the Palestinians... The suffering of innocent civilians on both sides - all this is contrary to the wind blowing in Europe... Blair is the right man for our conflict... The ambition, the ability, the determination and the power Blair brings to the job can certainly square this circle.

EDITORIAL IN ISRAEL'S HAARETZ

It would be hard to think of a more fitting appointment, at a more suitable time, than that of Tony Blair as the Quartet's Mideast envoy... Blair bringing with him his experiences in Northern Ireland and personal connections with US President George W Bush, and European and Middle Eastern leaders. His demonstrated friendship with Israel and his commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories is also an advantage.

ALUF BENN IN ISRAEL'S HAARETZ

In an interview with Ha'aretz nine months ago Blair spoke about the concern here that the Israeli interest will be harmed to solve a global problem. He promised then that he would never sacrifice Israel's security. Those suspicions will accompany him throughout his mission. There will always be a politician or pundit who will accuse you of flattering the Arabs in an attempt to erase the shame of the Iraq war. Don't get insulted. Show your credibility by your actions.

Other comment from around the world:

SERGEY KARAGANOV ON RUSSIA'S VESTI TV

Blair himself has weight, and even on his own without the Middle East Quartet's support, he would be able to do something. But it's another matter that his mission is doomed in the short term. The contours of peace are not visible in the Middle East.

ARTUR BLINOV IN RUSSIA'S NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA

Tony Blair turned out to be the most reliable and the most faithful friend and ally of the USA... There was a news report yesterday that Russia did not support Blair's candidacy. This was seen as the Kremlin's revenge for London's stubbornness over the requested extradition of Putin's political opponents against whom Moscow has brought criminal charges... It is likely that since Blair supported Israel's military action against Lebanon last year, his reputation in the Middle East has sustained a blow.

VLADIMIR DEMCHENKO, IGOR YAVLYANSKIY IN RUSSIA'S IZVESTIYA

Analysts are saying the stormy skies that delayed Blair's appointment originated in Moscow... There are four possible reasons: Blair made a critical statement regarding Putin at the G8 summit; Russia has not forgotten Blair supporting Bush on Iraq; that Russia is against the international isolation of the Hamas movement pursued by the USA and Israel; and a possible echo from the Litvinenko case and the British authorities' protection of a number of people.

NICO FRIED, THORSTEN SCHMITZ IN GERMANY'S SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG

Tony Blair's appointment as the Middle East Quartet's special envoy has sparked ill-feeling between Germany and the United States. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was unusually forthright in voicing his criticism over the lack of consultation. Having resigned as British prime minister... Blair is now, at Washington's initiative, to mediate in the Middle East.

GERMANY'S DER TAGESSPIEGEL

Blair's image as somebody who wanted to give the war in Iraq a human face as Bush's poodle will hardly help dispel any doubts. But it is his diplomatic success in Northern Ireland which may turn out to encumber him most. This is not as paradoxical as it sounds as Blair could be tempted to transfer the experience he gained in Northern Ireland to the Middle East. The fixation on analogies could obscure the fact that the two conflicts are fundamentally different.

GILLES DAUXERRE IN FRANCE'S LA PROVENCE

The Palestinians are now split into two hostile factions, one loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, the other in Gaza enlisted under the banner of the Hamas Islamist movement. The Quartet's special envoy will first have to persuade the latter to accept essential terms: the recognition of Israel's right to exist and the renunciation of violence. The task awaiting Tony Blair is huge.

JACQUES GUYON IN FRANCE'S LA CHARENTE LIBRE

Overall, Blair's record on the home front is positive. By contrast, at an international level the tragic adventure of the Iraq war is a blot on his 10 years in power. The alignment with America that saw him described as "Bush's poodle" could well be a major handicap, particularly for Arabs.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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