INTERNATIONAL. Former prime minister Tony Blair warned that the West's fight against extremism was far from over, in an interview published Friday.
The Middle East envoy admitted in an interview with the Times newspaper that he and former US president George Bush had underestimated the difficulty of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But he blamed Iran for prolonging the conflicts.
He accused Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime of supporting extremist groups, adding "in Iraq one of the main problems has been the continued intervention of Iran and likewise in Afghanistan."
Blair said regime change in Tehran would "immediately make me significantly more optimistic".
If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons "it would destabilise the region very, very badly," he said. But he stopped short of calling for military intervention.
Iran is targeted by four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment amid fears in the West that it seeks to build a nuclear bomb -- a charge it vehemently denies.
Blair, the prime minister at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks, was responsible for sending British troops into both Afghanistan and Iraq.
During the interview, he also blamed the long campaigns in the two countries and the continued threat of terror attacks on a "worryingly large" number of people swayed by the extremist narrative.
"We are a long way from getting out of this," he warned.
"The threat is still from the same ideology and the same narrative which is based on a perverted view of religion and which regards cultures and faiths as in fundamental conflict with each other," he added.
On Syria's crackdown on protesters, the former Labour party leader urged the international community to pile pressure on President Bashar Al-Assad.
Assad's position was "untenable" and there was "no process of change that leaves him intact," he added.