Lords debates Middle East and North Africa

16 July 2012

Members of the Lords debated recent developments in selected countries from the Middle East and North Africa on Friday 13 July.

Members of the Lords with an interest in Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen debated recent developments following a previous debate in March.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative) opened the debate and spoke about recent developments in Libya which has seen its first elections in 47 years. 'These are people who, a year ago, were fighting each other and fighting against a brutal tyrant. Despite all the many other problems, this at least indicates that there can be and is progress in some regions,' he said.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick (Conservative) declared an interest as an unpaid chairman of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce. He spoke of the violence in Syria and addressed the need for a ceasefire: 'Lives are being lost every day in Syria, as we have heard today... Diplomacy is essential. Neither side can win. Attention is focused on the removal of Mr Assad but even if and when he is removed, we will still have to negotiate with the huge state apparatus and the huge army there. It will not be possible just to wipe out all these elements at once.'

Vice president of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (Liberal Democrat), spoke about Israel and Palestine.

He expressed his concerns about events on the Sinai-Israel border with Egypt. He said: '...the Sinai peninsula has become a launch pad for terrorist attacks, such as the killing of an Israeli worker on 18 June.'  

Lord Wood of Anfield (Labour) said that a foreign policy that addresses profound change in the region is needed. He said: ' I suggest a revised approach to foreign policy for the Middle East and three different categories of action: first, policies to help end conflict, contain violence and protect civilians; secondly, policies to help support peaceful transitions and new constitutional orders; and, thirdly, in the longer term, policies to build up the democratic capacity of post-authoritarian countries.'

Previous Middle East debate in House of Lords

Further information

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