The extremist ideology behind the terrorist attacks in the United States 10 years ago is still alive and will take many more years to overcome, former British prime minister Tony Blair warned Friday.
"While the number of extremists is small, we underestimated the numbers who share the narrative of radical Islamism and who believe they are in fundamental conflict with us who do not share it," Blair told the Mirror newspaper.
"The majority, as the Arab Spring shows, want what we want. But the minority are well organized and very determined and they are not confined to the ranks of suicide bombers."
It would take a "good generation of effort" at many levels to change "hearts and minds and make the fanatics irrelevant," said Blair, DPA reported.
In an interview with the Times, Blair renewed his criticism of Iran, accusing it of "helping to prolong the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"Regime change in Tehran would immediately make me significantly more optimistic about the whole of the region," said Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy.
He also urged the international community to "hasten" the departure from power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"His position is untenable. There is no process of change that leaves him intact," said Blair of the Syrian leader.