Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed doubt Monday that Taliban forces will resume power in Afghanistan once the last of the U.S.-led troops withdraw from the region.
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“I don’t believe they will come back in power,” he said on TODAY, crediting the 30,000 additional troops President Obama sent to Afghanistan at the end of 2009. The surge had significant impact on shoring up security in two of the most war-torn provinces, Kandahar and Helmand, Blair said.
“What we’re engaged in Afghanistan is a struggle in which there will be people that will carry on trying to do their very worst to disrupt the progress of that country, but it’s important to understand there are also Afghans fighting on our side,” said Blair, envoy for the Quartet on the Middle East.Video: Top US general in Afghanistan speaks out (on this page)
Blair also dismissed the latest increase of anti-American sentiment being felt throughout the Middle East, mainly in the form of protests.
“If I were you in America, I would not worry about being loved. That’s not your role in the world,” he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “Your role is to be strong, and you are strong.”
He pointed out that in Libya, where U.S. diplomats were killed in recent protests, thousands of area residents also are speaking out against the violence and demanding prosecution for those responsible for the death of the Americans.
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Democracy takes time, especially for nations that have been ruled for decades by oppressive dictatorships, he said.
“In the end, you have this as a long struggle in which we’ve got to be on the side of decent people, and there are decent people out there,” he said.
Blair is in New York to help kick off Climate Week. He said the world needs to get serious about curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
“This climate issue is real, and we’re very responsible for future generations if we don’t deal with it,” he said. “We should recover a sense of urgency about it.”
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