Mr Hague’s agenda

 

 Today Mr Hague will hold a meeting with the Syrian “opposition” to see how he can help without sending them arms.

I do hope during his busy day he finds time for a British priority – sorting out the juvenile  behaviour of Spain towards Gibraltar. I do not trust giving this task to the EU to do for us. I want the Foreign Secretary fully engaged, with a strategy to press Spain into better behaviour on her international border.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

51 Comments

  1. Andyvan
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Surely supplying arms to a rebel army is an act of war according to international law? I know international law is only quoted when it suits Britain’s policy but I question he wisdom of sending weapons to rebel groups that are linked to Al Queda and seek to impose harsh Islamic law if they win the war. I wonder what reaction there would be here if Syria had openly sent arms to the IRA?
    I think there is a trait amongst politicians that makes them long to involve this country in foreign wars that we know little about and have no national interest in. Perhaps of they were required to send their children in the first wave of attackers it might temper their enthusiasm.

    • alan jutson
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Andy

      Agree, who exactly are the “opposition” in all of this it seems from an outsiders point of view, to be a collection of organisations, individuals and groups.

      Let us hope Mr Hague can clarify exactly who comprises the various elements before he decides to do anything.

      Agree with you John about Gibralter, it almost seems like we do not want to ruffle the feathers of the EU by making our own stand on this such appears to be our timid response..

      • Hope
        Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        All part of the Cameron plan to stay in the EU no matter what the public in the UK thinks. Hague is doing a similar thing. He was told by parliament that the UK does not want to be involved so he is trying to find ways to help. However, it has been reported the rebels used chemical weapons last year, so why is he getting involved? It is time for Cameron and co to clear out and move on they are not fit for purpose. They create one disaster after another.

    • zorro
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      I despair of the hypocrisy and double standards that the Western countries are employing. Who are the real aggressors and threats to peace and stability?

      zorro

    • Tad Davison
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Andy, some people say Syria DID supply arms to the IRA, as of course did Gadaffi, and I’m sure that was noted.

      I think it’s fair to say the western powers have a long memory and will seek to remove proven tyrants by whatever means when the opportunity arises. Personally, I’d like to see the back of despotism once and for all, but I worry that replacing like with like is not to improve the situation. Maybe the real problem is with the international community itself for not ensuring dictatorial regimes cannot grow and thrive in the first place. A common set of values would help to coalesce the UN security council at the very least, but whilst there are different forces pulling in different directions, we can expect nothing but trouble for the foreseeable future. Whether Hague is man enough to win for Britain the best deal possible, is a moot point and remains to be seen.

      Tad

      • cosmic
        Posted September 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Syria has been involved with terrorism, in the past. That was then and this is now.

        It’s hard to see that ousting Assad and probably having a Muslim fundamentalist regime appear, which would undoubtedly be supporters of jihad, would be a welcome alternative to Assad. This is especially so if the object is to combat terrorism.

    • Dan
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      There was no reaction when Libya sent arms to the IRA…nor when the Republic of Ireland did the same.

  2. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    If Hague supplies arms to one side in a civil war then presumably he wants that side to win, which in this case means that he is seeking to change the regime in Syria.

    And all that emotive and moralistic guff about upholding “international law” on chemical weapons and protecting children by launching cruise missiles into Syria is instantly exposed as so much deceit and hypocrisy, a mere pretext for embarking on a course of military action ultimately directed towards overthrowing the present government of Syria for entirely different reasons, including of course keeping in with Obama.

    Now I’m not necessarily opposed to any attempt to overthrow a foreign government, whatever the UN may say about it, but I am opposed to our government trying to get us gradually sucked into a war by deceiving Parliament and the people.

    And in this particular case of Syria I’m not even clear that whatever new government we might help to install would actually be better than the present government, or potentially much worse, and I don’t think Hague can be clear about that either.

    Reply The Foreign Secretary now agrees with those of us who have argued strongly against arming the rebels. He has now ruled out arming the rebels.

    • zorro
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      John, I understand that Cameron has intimated that he has not explicitly ruled out calling another vote to arm the rebels.

      zorro

      Reply He ruled out another vote again today at PMQs. There would be no point in holding another vote to intervene militarily, unless Mr Miliband offers to co-sponsor the motion this time.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–I am confused as usual because for a start do you not say higher up that Hague is meeting what you there call the Opposition to see how he can send arms? And best I understand, isn’t it a bit late for Hague to rule out sending arms?? Did you mean perhaps (even?) more arms??? As seemingly always, the FCO is up the pole and apart from all else if they think that we will benefit if the rebels take over they must be even higher up the pole than usual. And these arms, don’t they cost money????

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        Postscript–It could be argued that if we had minded our own business and not encouraged and armed the rebels, Assad would not have felt the need to use chemical weapons.

        • Gary
          Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          But there is NO concrete evidence that Assad use chemical weapons ! Only in the rabid mainstream media and among the usual suspects is this a fait accompli. The fact is that (some ed)Syrian insurgents, (words left out ed)have previously been reported to have been caught with sarin gas in Turkey and UN chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said they have previously used the gas. The type insidious lies that got us into Iraq are now being peddled again, and thank goodness Cameron an Obama are going to the legislators to judge.

          But I am running out of hope that the American Congress has not been bought off or or have not bought the lies. The vast majority of the citizens of America(and Britain and France) don’t want any missile strike, yet here we are still on the precipice. A missile strike could escalate very fast into thermonuclear war and that could be the end of all of us. There are ghouls among our leaders that won’t take no for an answer. I would prefer that in times like these the people are directly asked to judge through a referendum.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      You wrote in your initial comments: “Today Mr Hague will hold a meeting with the Syrian “opposition” to see how he can help with sending them arms.” Which of your statements is correct as they are contradictory?

      Reply It should have said “without”! Apologies.

    • Hope
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Dennis well said, there can be no other explanation after the government had already declared help to the rebels. If you were Assad and saw what happened to Gadaffi and Hussein would you give up? No rule of law or human rights when it suites the UK and US.

  3. Mike Wilson
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    At what point in our history did the government decide that it was okay to take money off me, spend it on guns and give those guns to people in other countries?

    Was this ever in a manifesto?

    • stred
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      This is very unfair to the boys. They have already spent your money. They are only borrowing or printing the money for the guns and there is plenty available.

    • S MacDonald
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Haven’t you just piquantly described the international arms business?

    • Andy Baxter
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      No Mike

      And it will never change until we change how we are governed;

      website link above

      • libertarian
        Posted September 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Andy Baxter

        And it will never change until we change how we are governed;

        Absolutely correct. We have no democracy in the UK any longer. We get side tracked by emotional issues raised by the political bubble to distract us from the travesty of governance that is unfolding before our eyes.

        We need a wholesale change and to break the mould of British politics

    • Gary
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Actually, the case for govt taxation is now untenable. Taxation and the limits to taxation were meant to be a throttle on out-of-control govt spending. Taxation is meant to ensure our right to representation, it was meant to be a quid pro quo contract between the govt and the governed. Now, the govt just prints what they cannot tax, they are now beholden to the printers aka the bankers and not the electorate. The system is out of control. The state has become the enemy of the people. The state treats us as the enemy as they dismantle our rights and treat us all a priori as suspects not citizens. We are witnessing the final phase of the breakdown of society.

  4. Acorn
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I understand that sovereignty is sovereignty, international law is international law and self determination of the people on the ground is their right. That is how we can still claim Gibraltar and that is how Spain can claim Ceuta & Melilla. Despite the opposition of people who say it’s their land by rights. I take no sides in the Spanish-Moroccan disputes, as I say Spain has sovereignty over two port cities in North Africa and we have sovereignty over Gibraltar on the Southerly tip of Spain. But it seems a bit of a double standard to have these outposts in Africa and then moan and whinge about the UK being in Gibraltar. Am I right? (Jay B on one of his sober days).

  5. Bill
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    If the House of Commons decided to stay out of the Syria conflict, why is our Foreign Secretary having anything to do with it?

    Is the answer that we wish to have some leverage with any regime post-Assad that will eventually emerge? If this is the answer, what evidence is there that we have any useful influence in Iraq?

  6. Bert Young
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    It would be reasonable and practical to “hold up” Spanish food imports in retaliation for the imposed deliberate obstruction at the Gibraltar/Spain border crossing . I appreciate that the Spanish government wish to divert attention away from the economic dilemma they face , however , focussing on Gibraltar is foolhardy and can only end in further embarrassment . Tell Hague to get “tough” and return the naval presence in the Mediterranean back to their home port in Gibraltar .

  7. stred
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The answer to the Gibraltar problem requires a bit of lateral thinking. It all started because the Gibs dropped large lumps of concrete onto the seabed in order to preserve fish stocks and stop the Spaniards hoovering up what was left. But, in the English Channel, large Spanish and other trawlers have already reduced the seabed to a desert. The solution may be to pick up the concrete in Gibraltar and move it to the Channel, along with a whole lot more.

  8. zorro
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I suppose the first thing we might say cynically is that we rarely expect the ‘foreign’ secretary to stick up for UK national interests…….John, you mention in a reply to another comment that Hague now agrees that we shouldn’t arm the rebels. Why then, as your post suggests, is he looking into how he can help with sending them arms. We all know that the Saudis and Qataris are supplying weapons, including chemical substances, and the e supply the Saudis and Qataris.

    zorro

    Reply – a mistype in my post – it should read “without sending arms” apologies.

    • zorro
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      We supply the Saudis and Qataris.

  9. forthurst
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    “Today Mr Hague will hold a meeting with the Syrian “opposition” to see how he can help with(out ed) sending them arms.”

    As I understand it Al Qaida (or the Free Syrian Army as they we prefer to call them) with whom Hague will be negotiating have been paid $100 per diem (tax free) and provided with an AK-47 by (a Middle Eastern state ed). They are recruited from Chechnya, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq etc. The provision of Sarin gas for false flag attacks (are alleged by some ed) already been made by (neighbouring countries ed). Perhaps the British Government could encourage Al Qaida recruitment by offering British citizenship as a reward for a period of loyal service (Syria only) and provide recruitment facilities in British legations; (etc ed).

    American servicemen, apparently are not as keen as Hague or Kerry (Kohn) to be allied with Al Qaida; their issue is purely practical, that of being allied to exactly the same people in Syria who have killed thousands of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. They would have a point if there are to be ‘boots on the ground’. If an American serviceman were to meet Al Qaida standing on the border between Syria and Iraq, would he he friend or foe? Would the rules of engagement be explained to both sides clearly so that Al Qaida would not kill American servicemen in Syria and vice versa. What about Al Qaida who move back and forth across the border, perhaps killing American Servicemen in Iraq before lunch and killing Syrians after? Would that be ok?

  10. English Pensioner
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I’m far from convinced that the “rebels”, if they were running Syria, would be any better than Assad; indeed in many respects they would be worse. There are too many extremist elements among the rebels who wish to impose strict Islamic laws on the country. At least Assad tended to have a live and let live policy towards the other Islamic sects and towards the Christian minority, indeed he was the only Middle East ruler to protect the Christian minority. He only tended to exercise power when it seemed that his position and party were threatened. Indeed many would have argued that Syria was the last country to worry about when he was in charge.
    Strange, for once I have to agree with Putin and I am vehemently opposed to us supplying weapons to anyone in Syria.
    As you say, Hague should be directing his efforts to sort out the Gibraltar, to most people in this country that is far more important than Syria.

  11. Atlas
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I bet the EU is pleased to be allowed to get its snout into the Gibraltar problem – ever widening its reach into our affairs.

    Hague seems to have gone native with regard to the FCO’s EU appeasement policy – he is a big disappointment.

  12. lifelogic
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Indeed. He should be very grateful that Parliament has rescued the Coalition Government from its folly and concentrate on the EU renegotiation (is there any?), UK interests, efficient defence and indeed Gibraltar.

  13. Ralph Musgrave
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I’d prefer to give Gib. back to Spain. I mean suppose the Spanish had grabbed the Isle of Wight during the Armada and still held it. How would we view that?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      As I understand every effort was made to prevent the Armada grabbing the Isle of Wight, because if it had then almost certainly we would have lost anyway.

      So your question doesn’t really arise.

      As it is, the populations of both the Isle of Wight and Gibraltar now wish to remain British, and that is not a consideration to be lightly disregarded.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      At least the rolling stock of the trains on the Isle of Wight would be a bit newer than the current ones which were built in 1938 if the Spanish were in charge…

      • Mark B
        Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps, but I would not trust a Spanish Train Driver at the helm though. Would you ?

  14. fkc
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I am at a loss to understand why Mr Hague is acting this way. What is the Foreign Office
    agenda or reasons for this meeting. Does the Foreign Office run this country I wonder?
    I entirely agree with you John on Gibralter,EU strangely quiet on the matter. Puzzled of Oxford.

  15. Tad Davison
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    A friend of mine is currently in Spain, and he tild me that the Spanish government are hiring vans to tour the streets with placards proclaiming Gibraltar belongs to Spain. Surely that is illegal under EU law, so I wonder what steps Mr Vague and the Foreign Office are taking to bring Spain to heel?

    Is it not enough that the UK feeds this monster to the tune of £50 million per day, without other countries making illegal claims against our sovereign territory too?

    Seems to me, the EU, backed by our very own FO, won’t be happy until Britain is but a mere subjugated region of a federal Europe. And who might we blame for that then John, the very people who are now busily trying to reassure us that they are the ones to trust to give us a new relationship?

    I think I’d sooner trust a Rattlesnake in nursery class.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  16. Ted Greenhalgh
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    It is nice to know that we are not going to give arms to the rebels. Should we be giving aid of any kind to the rebels? Humanitarian aid to help the refugees is a different matter provided that it can not be diverted.
    My understanding is that Syria is a signatory to the treaty on the use of chemical weapons. If this is true then something needs to be done or otherwise the treaty is a sham. However, nothing should be done until we have international agreement that these weapons were used when the initial response should be to get the event logged in the Hague. I am not certain that a response should be made based on the fact that a red line has been drawn and someones creditability will be damaged.

  17. Max Dunbar
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Funny that you mention Spain in the same post as Hague’s desire to supply arms to Syria. Germany and Italy were supplying arms (and men) to Spain’s rebels a few years ago and the Russians were doing the same for the Spanish government. At that time we had a non-intervention agreement and stood back. The outcome suited us at the time, and proved to be the correct course to adopt.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Hague has got a blood lust about Syria and I doubt he thinks of anything but bombing Damascus. I liked Sir Peter Tapsell’s skewering of Cameron today with the armageddon question to which, as usual, he had no answer.

  19. formula57
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Why has Mr Hague not taken responsibility for the Syrian vote and resigned? He provides a classic example of one either too stupid or too deceitful and contemptuous of Parliament and the people to continue in office. Better that he devotes his energies into considering his own position rather than that of Syrian rebels or Gibraltar, leaving them to someone more competent and honourable.

  20. Single Acts
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry, he will only give arms to nice killers, not the nasty Al Qaeda types. And he knows the difference because you can tell…in some way.

    Don’t worry the opposition uphold the Geneva convention, or would if they were signatories, and as to the execution of government prisoners ~ pffft.

    Yep, these are exactly the sort of people we need to give guns to. What could go wrong?

    Reply Apologies – he is no longer wanting to arm them.

    • Hope
      Posted September 5, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      He should not be helping them full stop.

  21. cosmic
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    For some time Mr. Hague certainly appears to have had a determination to intervene in Syria on the side of the rebels, and therefore assist in destabilising the Assad regime.

    Presumably this is rooted in deep considerations of geo-politics and he has good and sufficient reasons for his enthusiasm, reasons he cannot divulge. Supposedly he knows which of the many rebel factions are the ‘good guys’.

    Obviously, without having access to his information and considerations, we have to judge on the facts available to us. To many of us, it looks like a determination to meddle in a confused civil war with no happy results likely to result from our interference. Presumably the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libyan adventures were also undertaken for deep considerations of geo-politics which are still working out in mysterious ways. To most of us they look like needless disasters.

  22. Peter Stroud
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I find it most worrying that the Foreign Secretary is even considering send ing arms to the Syrian opposition. The BBC, only yesterday, reported that there were now many more Jihadists in the rebel militias than there were. How can Mr Hague ever ensure that these fanatics do not benefit? Arming such fanatics is unthinkable. And what happens to the Christians, Kurds, Shia Moslems and secular democrats if Assad goes,only to be replaced by an Islamic Republic?

    Reply It is now government policy not to arm the rebels, I am pleased to report.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Reply–Eh? I could have sworn I just heard on the 1.00 News that Cameron or somebody, presumably Hague, had just flatly said the opposite???

  23. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The Brits in Gibraltar could say as others have done to us, that the Spanish are being racist. The Brits state a case for encouraging marine life to thrive by blocking off access to the waters. Has it improved? The Spaniards are also accusing the Brits of smuggling tobacco from Gibraltar. How stupid to make an issue of this. Many smokers try and take more of their allowance out from countries abroad.
    The Spaniards regard this Island as Spanish. It is again an issue which should be dealt with legally rather than this constant harassing.

  24. REPay
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    The Spaniards regard this Island as Spanish.

    The Spanish like the Argentinians should be reminded of the doctrine of the self-determination of peoples…this is a UN charter issue. I am constantly amazed at how the FCO fails to use this doctine to defend people who do not want to have their nationality changed! I suppose because it is the fruits of warfare and an embarrassing reminder of an Imperial Age. I am amazed the Spaniards want it!

    People not geography! When the majority of the people of Gibraltar want to be Spanish they will.

  25. They Work For Us
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    It is unattractive for senior politicians to stay at home and devote all there effort into solving our internal problems, welfare, putting the EU back in its box, immigration, over population, too high taxes, too much state interference in the affairs of supposedly free men.

    It is much more attractive to forget all of these and swan off to supposedly strut the world stage, meet like minded non entities (who have similar problems and who are aslo avoiding them) and forget about those embarassing people at home (the electorate) who expect the PM to be nose to the grindstone. Why do we need both a PM and a Foreign Secretary if both are off swanning round the world?

  26. Alan Wheatley
    Posted September 5, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Re Gibraltar, agree totally.

  27. Peter Stroud
    Posted September 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    It is very interesting how many comments are showing how worried many are that, should Obama attack Assad’s assets, and should he capitulate, the new rulers might be even worse for Syria and the Middle East. It seems that the US Administration, at least Mr Kerry, is in denial regarding Al Quaida’s involvement in the rebellion.

    Neither Mr Obama or, for that matter Messrs Cameron and Hague have discussed the affect of Islamists on the rebel cause. Yet attacking Assad will certainly be taken, by the rebels and the Gulf States, as support for their cause.

    As to Gibraltar, you are quite right. Hague must take a very strong line.

  28. Stephen O
    Posted September 6, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Most borders in Europe are the product of warfare or post war treaties, so Gibraltar is nothing special in that regard. Britain is unusual in that it was a seapower and so some territory it came to possess was connected to it not by land but by sea.

    The irony of the situation is that the anti-colonial movement was driven by the principle it was wrong for people to be ruled over by a foreign power and that they should be free to determine there own path. Now that most such colonies have been de-colonised, we have countries, under the banned of de-colonisation, pushing to have the rule of a foreign power (themselves) imposed on people currently living under the government of their own choice!

    I think we encourage the Spanish Government to make life difficult for us by our weak response. A phone call from the PM and a complaint to our ‘friends’ in Brussels, is hardly likely to have much impact. Why do we not sell Spanish government bonds so the price goes down and the interest rate they need to pay goes up. Make them literally pay for their aggression. They are periodically wobbling on the edge of a financial abyss, we could demonstrate how very unhelpful we could be if they continue to antagonise us. Remind the Spanish that when you are in difficulty it is best not to pick a fight with your friends.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page