I can't believe Tony Blair... he has declared Mubarak to be 'courageous and a force for good'. Obviously, Blair has never lived under an oppressive dictatorship. To think, he is Britain's envoy for the Middle East. Personally, I can only think he would say such a thing in order to protect Israel. Far better that he had kept his mouth formly zipped. Meanwhile this morning, I have BBC on as always, since the beginning of the uprising in Cairo - 836 injured in the last 24h, fighting continued overnight, the pro-government demonstrators have been reported by many journalists from both CNN and BBC to have been put there by Mubarak to discredit the pro-democracy supporters and reek havoc... It's a nightmare. Whatever the results are, the consequences are colossal. If Mubarak goes, in comes the Muslim Brotherhood bringing peace as we know it in the Middle East to an end, putting Israel in terrible danger and Jordan under tremendous pressure. However, if he stays, the people of Egypt are, in turn, also in terrible danger. The pro-democracy demonstrators have spoken to journalists, been photographed and filmed - the government know who they are. People are disappearing, demonstrators from the square reported yesterday. Mubarak is slimey, stubborn and has no intention of moving. This from Bucharest Herald:

Tony_20Blair_smallTony Blair: Mubarak is 'immensely courageous and a force for good'

Tony Blair has described Hosni Mubarak, the beleaguered Egyptian leader, as "immensely courageous and a force for good" and warned against a rush to elections that could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power, the Guardian writes.

The former prime minister, now an envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, praised Mubarak over his role in the negotiations and said the west was right to back him despite his authoritarian regime because he had maintained peace with Israel.

But that view is likely to anger many Egyptians who believe they have had to endure decades of dictatorship because the US put Israel's interests ahead of their freedom. Speaking to Piers Morgan on CNN, Blair defended his backing for Mubarak.

"Where you stand on him depends on whether you've worked with him from the outside or on the inside. I've worked with him on the Middle East peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians so this is somebody I'm constantly in contact with and working with and on that issue, I have to say, he's been immensely courageous and a force for good," he said.

"Inside Egypt, and I have many Egyptian friends, it's clear that there's been a huge desire for change."

Asked if the west had not been an obstacle to change, Blair defended the policies of his and other governments.

"I don't think the west should be the slightest bit embarrassed about the fact that it's been working with Mubarak over the peace process but at the same time it's been urging change in Egypt," he said.

Blair argued that the region has unique problems that make political change different from the democratic revolutions in eastern Europe. He said the principal issue was the presence of Islamist parties that he fears will use democracy to gain power and then undermine the freedoms people seek.

"It's perfectly natural for those from the outside to want to support this movement for change at the same time as saying let's be careful about this and make sure that what happens in this process of change is something that ends in free and fair elections and a democratic system of government and it doesn't get taken over or channelled in to a different direction that is at odds with what the people of Egypt want," he said.