The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is holding its policy meeting this March. Several speakers, including former heads of state, have spoken at the conference, which is geared toward the committee’s mission of strengthening, protecting and promoting the U.S. – Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the U.S.
One of the key speakers was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called for a new approach to peace between Arab nations and Israel. He also blamed the Ayatollahs’ regime in Iran for many of the issues within the region.
“If you had a benign regime in Iran, all of the problems in the Middle East would be resolvable,” Blair said. He pointed out that Iran has a long history of sticking its nose and the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) into areas of instability within the region. Numerous international organizations have noted Iran’s support of militias and rebel forces in Yemen, its support of terrorism in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, as well as its backing of Assad in the Syrian civil war.
Their fingers have been everywhere. The IRGC, as a financial powerhouse in Iran, has been able to fund training of forces and terrorist cells that are being deployed into these areas to stir up conflict. Iran has also sent spies to Europe, including a Pakistani man who was recently convicted of spying in Germany. The Iranian regime also looks to capitalize on potential unrest, including in the kingdom of Bahrain.
The Middle East is under stress, with humanitarian issues in multiple countries, due in part to Iran’s meddling. According to Blair, the international community needs to push back against Iran in this regard. But the old way of doing things is not going to be effective, according to Blair.
“We’re not going to reach peace in the old way,” Blair said. “Up to now, people thought if you do a peace deal, then the circumstances will change. I think it’s the other way around.”
He said that Israel and the Sunni Arab states must unite over common interests if they are to achieve true peace.
“The key to transforming the Middle East is to have relationship between Israelis and Arabs which can be open, above the table, acknowledged in which Israel’s existence is accepted and Israel works closely with Arab states.
“What I would like to see is a new alliance in the Middle East — a strategic partnership with the leadership of the United States of America, in which we say this what the battle in the Middle East is about. It’s against extremism, in favour of mutual respect across boundaries, race, faith and culture. And if we want the Middle East to succeed, we need to base this new partnership not just on interests, but on basic human values of dignity, respect and tolerance for all,” said Blair.
Other notable speakers included Senator Bob Menendaz, who is a co-author on legislation that looks to add further Iranian sanctions, including more sanctions for the IRGC.