UK to push for 'stranglehold' on Assad

2012-02-23 14:00

London - Britain will push for a tightening of the diplomatic and economic "stranglehold" on Syria at a meeting of regional powers in Tunisia on Friday, Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

Hague said he would bring up the Syria issue on Thursday at talks on the sidelines of a major conference on the future of Somalia which is taking place in London.

"I will be discussing today with [US Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton and many of the Arab leaders what we can achieve at that meeting [in Tunisia]. I think part of that has to be tightening a diplomatic and economic stranglehold on the Assad regime," he told the BBC.

Hague said the failure to stop President Bashar Assad from killing civilians was a "deeply frustrating situation", but ruled out military action like the Nato-led offensive against Libya last year.

Military action against Assad would be "much more complicated and would have to be on a much greater scale than in Libya, so that's not something we're likely to embark on", Hague said.

He said the international community had "supplied food rations and other emergency supplies" to Syrians affected by the violence.

Tightening sanctions

"People have been dying in their thousands, that continues, the Assad regime continues to act seemingly with impunity," he said, a day after two western journalists were killed in shelling of the Syrian city of Homs.

"But I think we can agree a wider set of measures across a large group of nations, I think we can tighten the European Union sanctions on Syria when we meet on Monday."

"Clearly the economic measures that we are adopting make the life much more difficult for the Assad regime. We have cut off a quarter of their revenues for instance by stopping all oil imports to Europe," he said.

The "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunis will gather top diplomats from the Arab League, Europe and the United States, along with the opposition.

Russia has denounced the meeting as one-sided and refused to attend. China has also refused to commit itself.

  • Kobus - 2012-02-23 14:13

    Dream on, they are just like Iran and no sactions are going to change their minds.

      mundu.olewega - 2012-02-24 17:57

      Send in the drones and smoke Assad's ass.

  • Fred - 2012-02-23 14:18

    All Russian and Chinese people wherever you are, hang your heads in shame and rise up against your governments. Disgusting, heartless and shameful.

      mundu.olewega - 2012-02-24 18:00

      Especially those Chinese....look how they are pillaging our Rhinos. They eat locusts. Why would we expect them too behave any diffrent towards humans?

  • Forsythe - 2012-02-23 14:20

    why dont they assist the uprising civilians like they did in libya? if it werent for the international aerial assualts then gaddafi would never have been captured.

      Fred - 2012-02-23 15:35

      Enrico, thank you. Reading your thoughts, perhaps then it is best that the Iranian election is happening next month. I was concerned it was a bit early, not eneough time for the Assad regime to be removed to strengthen the courage of the Iranian people. But perhaps it is in fact best this way. Ahmedinejad and his Ayahtolla cronies are likely to cheat again, and this time I expect the Iranian people will not allow it to happen, whatever the cost. They will have been emboldened by events in Tunsiai, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. They will rise up and embroil the Iranian regime, distract it from Syria and weaken Assad. Just a thought. So much can happen.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-02-23 15:36

      The Arab League needs to take the lead on any intervention in Syria or at least with their mandate. Regional resolution is the first step but as the bodies pile up it will create a ever incresing pressure to act. Unfortunately the currency in these uprisings seems to be lives lost.

      Fred - 2012-02-24 01:56

      What is really needed a strong international alliance across cultures and religions, a unanimous looking into the child-dictator Bashar Assad to say NO, or else. But Russia, China, Fidel, Michael, Matthew and Patrick (some of these people are the same person with two aliases) can't see that far. They're too self-centered and emotionally detached, weak hearts.

  • mabandla.magoqwana - 2012-02-23 15:18

    i don't understand UN how it can be stopped by 2 countries (RUSSIA&CHINA)perhaps these 2 countries they got interest in Syria. the mandate of UN is to protect the lives of the people anywhere . people are dying in big numbers and they don't have arms like ASSAD government to defend themselves .

      Fred - 2012-02-23 15:28

      Couldn't agree with you more, Mabandla. The idea behind the UN Security Council is for the world to work on consensus, which is a lofty idea and right. But countries like Russia and China, who have killed tens of millions of their own people and who have only recently rejoined the international community, are not ready to assume such lofty responsibilities. Perhaps they should be observers for a number of years, and when ready allowed to assume these responsibilities.

      Anthony - 2012-02-23 16:38

      you are quite right Mabandla, And than there are still those who make that silly comment , that the UN is controlled by the West !!!????!!!!!

      Fred - 2012-02-23 22:56

      You really are a simple, faulty thinker Patrick, with a big chip on your shoulder

      Anthony - 2012-02-25 04:49

      @Patrick, That you have a facination for murderers is one thing, but to continue with this childish ranting about oil, is pathetic. The USA gets NO oil from Libya, your friends, the Chinese, take the majority!!!!! And in Syria. it is not the interest of the West that is allowing the slauthering of its people to continue, it is the interest of Russia.

  • nowicki1 - 2012-02-23 16:56

    With or without intervention, Syria has a tough time ahead

      Fred - 2012-02-23 23:09

      But do nothing about it, Patrick, let civilians, women and children be slaughtered, and above all else stop what is needed most: an international alliance across cultures and religions that stand firmly together and say a big resounding NO to Assad, or else. You are partly responsible for every death, every maiming, every torture and detention that is happening in Syria.

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