LORDS

Fresh thinking on UK policy toward the Middle East needed

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02 May 2017

Lessons of intervention, and non-intervention, in Iraq, Libya and Syria must be thoroughly learnt, says Lords report published today.

Background

The Lords International Relations Committee today publishes its report, 'The Middle East: Time for New Realism', in which it calls for a major re-shaping of UK policy in the Middle East and questions some of the assumptions and attitudes which have underlain both UK and Western policies toward the region for more than a century.

Chairman's comments

Commenting on the report, Chairman of the Committee, Lord Howell of Guildford, said:

"The Middle East has changed and UK policy in the region must respond to that. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, and we have a new and uncertain American policy in the region, we cannot assume our strategies of the past will suffice.

"We need a new UK Middle East strategy and set of policies that reflect the new reality in the region. We can no longer assume America will set the tone for the West’s relationship with the Middle East and the UK must give serious thought to how our own approach will need to change.

"One thing is certain: the UK cannot disengage from the Middle East. What happens there affects us and will continue to do so. From inward investment to the UK, the impact of refugees from the region and our continuing reliance on gas and oil exports, our interests will continue to be intertwined with those of the region and the Government must ensure it has the right plan for our relationship with it."

Other conclusions and recommendations

  • The balance of power in the delivery of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute lies with Israel. The Government should now give serious consideration to recognising Palestine as a state, as the best way to show its determined attachment to achieving the two-state solution.
  • The UK's position of relying on assurances by the Saudi-led review process of arms use in Yemen is not an adequate way of implementing its obligations for its risk-based assessment, as set out in the Arms Trade Treaty.
  • We endorse the military action of the US in Syria as justified and appropriate given Russia's determination to block action at the UN Security Council, and the violation of the Syrian regime's obligations under the Chemicals Weapons Convention.
  • The UK should work with Iran despite US policy to ensure the stability of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Following Brexit, the ease of negotiating a UK-Gulf trade deal is optimistic, and the UK's departure from the European Union does not necessarily offer the UK any added advantage.

Further information

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