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Bashar al-Assad.
London

Full-blown UK diplomatic crisis errupts over Syria

The Sunday Telegraph maintains that a full-blown diplomatic crisis has errupted in Britain following Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential elections.

Published: November 13, 2016, 10:53 am

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    The next two months will be crucial for the UK in trying to convince Trump’s team of the need to remove President Assad of Syria. The issue will be the “number one” priority, the influential British newspaper said.

    The British government had hoped that Trump would not pursue an alliance with Russia. Foreign Office officials admitted that it will be “incredibly difficult” but emphasised that Britain will not change its position.

    “We have been very clear that Assad has no place in the future of Syria,” the official said. “He has the blood of 400,000 people on his hands.”

    Syrians however, would argue instead that it is the Foreign Office’s meddling in the Middle East, that has left Britain tainted with blood on its hands.

    The diplomatic crisis comes in the wake of president Vladimir Putin urging Trump to encourage a NATO withdrawal from Russia’s borders as part of a move to improve relations.

    Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s official spokesman, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Russia now sees “NATO’s muscles getting bigger and bigger and closer and closer to Russian borders.”

    He said that as a “confidence-building measure” between the US and Russia Trump could help relations between the US and Russia by “slowing down” or “withdrawing” NATO’s military presence entirely from its borders.

    But British dismay at improved relations on the European continent has reached fever pitch, with NATO’s secretary-general issuing a dramatic warning today to Trump: “Going it alone is not an option, either for Europe or for the United States.”

    Stoltenberg warned Trump that blood was spilled by Nato allies after they came to the aid of the US following the 9/11 attacks.

    “The only time Nato has invoked its self-defence clause, that an attack on one is an attack on all, was in support of the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This was more than just a symbol. Nato went on to take charge of the operation in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of European soldiers have served in Afghanistan since. And more than 1,000 have paid the ultimate price in an operation that is a direct response to an attack against the United States.”

    Writing exclusively in the Observer, the leader of the western military alliance, Stoltenberg, says the west faces its “greatest security challenge in a generation”.

    America accounts for 70% of NATO spending and in July Trump remarked that despite that, NATO was incapable of dealing with terrorism. “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”

    But The Observer has learned that France and Germany are planning to unveil proposals on European military integration in the coming weeks.

    karin@praag.org

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