Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Syria

Delivered in Plenary - 14th September 2011

Madam President

When installed by the Syrian Ba’athist clique which surrounded him, President Bashar al-Assad was seen by many as a young reformer – a doctor like me, which implied some degree of compassion – and the man who would lead Syria away from the brutal dictatorship of his father, dominated by the Alawite sect, into a modern pluralist democracy.

Alas this was not going to come to pass. Sadly, the infectious Arab Spring desire for freedom and democracy was never going to be acceptable to the Assad Damascus dictatorship, which instead gunned down thousands of unarmed peaceful protestors, including women and children, on the feeble excuse that some armed Islamists had joined the rebellion. Of course, this is ironic given the fact that Damascus has given huge support to Hamas and Hezbollah in the past.

Syria is not Libya and, sadly, al-Assad knows that we cannot launch a similar right-to-protect NATO military operation on the side of the rebels, but we can state our revulsion at Assad’s brutality, and we can apply stronger sanctions, including selective bans on investment from European companies and oil import bans, which are in place already, and we can treat the illegitimate Ba’athist leadership as the pariahs that they really are.