Lords debates Middle East countries

19 March 2012

The House of Lords' debate last week (Friday 16 March) covered recent developments in selected countries in the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Libya and Syria

Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative) who moved the debate, opened with a speech referring to the 'momentous events' of the last 15 months in the Middle East and North Africa and the Arab spring.

He said: 'The past 15 months represent only the very beginning of the process of change. In Syria, appalling violence and instability continue. New governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya need to stabilise their economies, draft new constitutions and meet the expectations of their people.'

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (Labour), chairman of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, spoke of the economic contrasts in the region, and called for a government response to the issues: 'So can the minister tell us what our government are doing to liaise with Arab countries on what the future holds for Syria internally and on its place in the international community?' she asked.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (Liberal Democrat) then spoke of 'the concern that Iran is moving towards a nuclear weapons capability', while Viscount Eccles (Conservative) concentrated on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly the West Bank.  

The subject moved on to recent events in Yemen and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (Liberal Democrat) commended the elections where she played a part as an official observer: 'The election of last month, just a few weeks ago, did great credit to all concerned,' she said. 

Lord Howell concluded the debate commenting on Syria, Iran and the Middle East Peace process.

A library note has been published providing background information.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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