Political wrangling must not shield Assad: Hague
Diplomatic deadlock must not prevent international action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if it is shown he used chemical weapons against rebels, British Foreign Minister William Hague said Tuesday.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Hague repeated comments made earlier by prime minister David Cameron which stressed that any military action must be used to send a signal to the world that the use of chemical weapons would not go unpunished.
"This is not just about one country or one conflict," he wrote in comments published on the paper's website. "We cannot afford the weakening of the global prohibition against the use of chemical weapons."
Britain, France and the United States have all said they believe the alleged gas attacks that killed hundreds of civilians near Damascus last week were launched by the regime.
Hague warned against the "creeping normalisation" of the use of such weapons and called on the United Nations Security Council to "rise to its responsibilities by condemning these events and calling for a robust international response".
"All previous attempts to get the Security Council to act on Syria have been blocked, and we cannot allow diplomatic paralysis to be a shield for the perpetrators of these crimes," he wrote.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, has repeatedly warned Washington and its allies against military action in Syria.
A lack of action would undermine "decades of painstaking work to construct an international regime of rules and checks, overseen by the UN, to prevent the use of chemical weapons and to destroy stockpiles," Hague warned.
The minister accepted that taking action "will not be without risks" but argued "the risks of doing nothing are greater."
British lawmakers will on Thursday debate the crisis.
© 2013 AFP