Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen

Delivered in Plenary - 6th April 2011

Mr President,

In Syria security forces have brutally responded to demonstrations about legitimate grievances with lethal force. President Assad’s belligerence and his rhetoric towards Israel, our ally, his support for terrorists such as Hezbollah and his friendship with Iran all mark him out, in my view, as a dangerous autocrat.

In contrast, Bahrain is a relatively modern and progressive constitutional monarchy. Unfortunately, Shi’ite extremists, inspired and supported by Iran, continue to stoke sectarian tensions and spread propaganda against the government and the king. The king has made patient efforts to listen to protestors’ concerns and enter into dialogue, but of course we must condemn all deaths of unarmed protestors.

Finally, it seems in Yemen that President Saleh, by his use of disproportionate force, has alienated his principle backers, including the United States, despite his firm action over many years to root out al-Qa’ida terrorists. Withdrawing EU support from him now, without knowing what comes afterwards, is a high-risk strategy.