From the Guardian: Chris Doyle on disagreement between William Hague and Peter Hain in Parliament
Hague challenged in parliament over Syria
Peter Hain, who was a foreign office minister in Britain's previous Labour government, challenged foreign secretary William Hague during questions in parliament today.
Hain accused the current government of failing to pursue a negotiated political solution to the crisis – with dire consequences for Syria. Hague denied this and stated that the government was, along with most of the international community, pushing for a transitional government that included members of the current government.
Chris Doyle of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu), spoke to Hain afterwards and says Hain was worried that British policy is “gridlocked” and “leading nowhere except more violence”.
Is this a fair criticism? In reality, it is pretty clear the UK government would like a negotiated political outcome to the Syria conflict. It knows the alternative is a dangerous destabilisation of the Middle East.
However, on occasions, its positions and statements have not always matched this ambition. You cannot call for regime change (however desirable) and expect that regime to cooperate in a political process. You cannot object to the involvement of a key player such as Iran just because, for other reasons, you wish to isolate it.
If you see Russia as central to pressuring the Assad regime, you cannot isolate it by creating a Friends of Syria Group that Moscow sees as anti-Russian. To achieve a political solution in Syria you have to talk with all parties and explore all options.