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Politics & press news – Embassy 54

No deals with Assad, say ex UK Ambassadors

Britain should not be lured into making deals with the Bashar Al Assad for the sake of rooting out ISIS in Syria, two prominent former UK Ambassadors to Syria have warned.

Henry Hogger, former UK Ambassador to Damascus (2000-03) told Embassy that the UK did not “need” to support Assad because unlike Iraq, Syria had a powerful defence force and the backing of Russia (if needed), which also had an interest in tackling Chechen Islamist extremists fighting in Syria.

Moreover, strategically speaking, the UK “should not” assist Assad but rather focus on aiding the moderate opposition to form a government in future, he said.

“What [would] such a government think of a West that has consorted with – and possibly actively supported – the former tyrant in some kind of unholy coalition aimed at crushing IS?” he said.

On intervention in Syria, Sir Ivor Lucas, also a former UK Ambassador to Damascus, said the US and its coalition partners should “proceed unilaterally as they see fit” adding that to seek UN backing would “invite a Russian veto” or at least unacceptable conditions.

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has said a case could be made for military action in Syria for humanitarian reasons, or the so-called “responsibilty to protect”, which would not breach international law.

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