Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife and respected foreign policy expert talked to the Today programme yesterday about the situation in Syria. Last week he said that he didn’t think the EU arms embargo should be lifted. Now that it has been, he is now calling for a moratorium on arms exports to Syria so that a Conference can take place to try and get a peace process under way.
He told the Today programme yesterday:
I was one of those who expressed grave reservations about the idea of the EU embargo coming to an end which is what is going to happen and I think it was inevitable that there would be some kind of response of the sort we’ve seen in recent days from Russia. There is no point in going back in history and seeking to apportion blame if the only possibility of progress is this conference which for all of the postures and rhetoric does look as if it has a reasonable chance of proceeding.
John Humphrys suggested that there was no incentive for the Conference to succeed if the rebels thought there would be a supply of arms from the EU available if it failed:
I don’t disagree with that and it is a measure of how unsuccessful efforts have been to bring an end to this terrible conflict. If you’ll forgive the flippant way to describe it, the only game in town at the moment is this Conference. That’s why nothing should be done in my view by anyone with an interest which may have the effect of making that more difficult to achieve. They may not be willing to announce it publicly but at the very least there should be an understanding that there will be a moratorium on any arms exports to any side so that this Conference has a chance of getting off the ground.
This was part of a much longer section in which he debated the situation with Natalia Norochnitskaya of the Parisian based Institute of Democracy and Co-operation. She was defending the Russians supplying the Assad regime with arms by graphically describing atrocities allegedly committed by the rebels. You can listen to the whole section here from 2 hours and 10 minutes in.
* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.