Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Hague warns Syria over sanctions

Syria could be hit with asset freezes and travel bans across Europe after a violent response to protests (AP)

Syria could be hit with asset freezes and travel bans across Europe, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

He revealed the possible sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the House of Commons, where MPs were told revolutions sweeping north Africa and the Middle East could "be an even more significant blow to al Qaida" than Osama bin Laden's death.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said peaceful protests in Syria and Bahrain, which followed demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, should be allowed to continue despite violent crackdowns by security forces.

He said: "The success of the Arab Spring could yet be an even more significant blow to al Qaida."

Speaking at Foreign Office questions in the Commons, Mr Hague said: "This is a moment for people across the Middle East to reflect that in so many countries it has been possible to bring about peaceful and democratic change.

"That may yet happen in more countries. The violent philosophy of al Qaida, believing only violence and death can bring about change, is bankrupt and should be increasingly vanquished across the Middle East."

Mr Hague criticised the crackdowns by governments across the Middle East, telling MPs: "No true stability can result from the repression of legitimate demands for political participation and the rule of law.

"Nothing can justify the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators.

"We are supporting peaceful reform in Tunisia and Egypt, just as we are opposing violence elsewhere and urging all governments in the region to respond positively to popular calls for better government."

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