Saturday, 7 June 2014

MPs’ letter on Assad’s sham election, and on military aid to moderates

From The Telegraph, 2 June 2014.

Syrian opposition

SIR – By holding a sham “election” today, the Assad regime again rejects the political process based on the Geneva Communique. This election will be a fraud, much like the others conducted by Assad and his father before him, in which they received at least 97 per cent of the vote.

The election should not give the impression that Assad’s position is secure, when he is actually losing ground. Most of the north and east of Syria is outside Assad’s control – more than 60 per cent of the country. The regime has just suffered another setback in its international relations, with the expulsion of its ambassador from Jordan and the greater recognition extended to the Syrian opposition’s representation here and in America. Letting Assad continue his assault on the Syrian people, including the use of chemical weapons with impunity, is not only immoral but also impractical: he cannot win.

We commend the Friends of Syria for pledging to increase support not only for the Syrian Opposition Coalition, but also for its “Supreme Military Council and associated moderate armed groups”. The Assad regime will not countenance a political solution while it continues to believe it can win militarily. It is therefore vitally important that more military support, within the known constraints, is given to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), thereby forcing Assad and his backers to accept a political solution.

This is also in Britain’s national security interest, given that the FSA is fighting both the regime and al-Qaeda. It is reported that the Obama administration is close to providing military training to vetted members of the FSA. Given that the Prime Minister recently described “mentoring” as part of Britain’s assistance programme, we urge him to consider providing similar military training to moderates.

Brooks Newmark MP (Con)
Chair, All-party Parliamentary Group on Friends of Syria
Sir Richard Ottaway (Con)
Meg Munn MP (Lab)
Alistair Burt MP (Con)
Nicholas Soames MP (Con)
Ian Austin MP (Lab)
Gisela Stuart MP (Lab)
Jeremy Lefroy MP (Con)
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (Lab)
London SW1