Blair Middle East Speech
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Reuters

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has called on Western nations to take sides in the Middle East, between moderate and radical Muslims, and to shift the fight against global Islamic extremism to the top of the political agenda.

"What is absolutely necessary is that we first liberate ourselves from our own attitude. We have to take sides. We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time," he said in a speech at Bloomberg's London HQ.

"We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent and sees it as a whole. And above all, we have to commit. We have to engage."

The Middle East peace envoy called for intervention in the Middle East, stating that nations could no longer look on at crises such as Syria without becoming involved.

"The important point for western opinion is that this is a struggle with two sides. So when we look at the Middle East and beyond it to Pakistan or Iran and elsewhere, it isn't just a vast unfathomable mess with no end in sight and no one worthy of our support," he continued.

"It is in fact a struggle in which our own strategic interests are intimately involved; where there are indeed people we should support and who, ironically, are probably in the majority if only that majority were mobilised, organised and helped."

West should support 'revolution'

He also called for Western nations to support "revolution" in radical Islamic countries.

"Where there has been revolution, we should be on the side of those who support those principles and opposed to those who would thwart them," he said.

Blair has attracted criticism for supporting Egypt's military junta which overthrew Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi last year, and for his close links to the Rwandan and Kazakh regimes. However, he defended his support for the overthrow of Morsi's government in the speech.

"The Muslim Brotherhood government was not simply a bad government. It was systematically taking over the traditions and institutions of the country."

He moved on to say that the spread of Islamism across the world, and not just the Middle East, needed to be tackled.

"Take a step back and analyse the world today: with the possible exception of Latin America, there is not a region of the world not adversely affected by Islamism and the ideology is growing."

A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on Blair's speech, but it is believed that the former Prime Minister's comments will not be approved of in London and Washington.