Speaking to journalists covering the 8th IISS Regional Security Summit currently being held in Manama, Bahrain, British Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that the United Kingdom “hasn’t ruled out any options on Syria in the future,” indicating that there are “contingency plans” ready should the Assad Regime resort to using chemical weapons. Hague described the upcoming Friends of Syria meeting, which is scheduled to be held in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh on Dec. 12, as an important step towards emphasizing the legitimacy of the recently formed opposition coalition, which the U.K. has recently recognized as the sole representative of the Syrian people.
However, he said that it isn’t U.K.’s policy to supply arms to any side of the conflict, elaborating that his country’s support to the coalition would be ‘practical’ but not ‘lethal.’ Hague said the UK and the U.S. witnessed evidence that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons.When asked by Al Arabiya regarding what level of intervention the U.K is considering in case chemical weapons are used in Syria, the British Foreign Secretary said that his country and others have “contingency plans” as he refrained from discussing details of what these plans entail. When asked if intervention would be considered in case of deployment (of the chemical weapons)or only upon using them, Hague responded by saying that there are ‘many different scenarios’ when it comes to using chemical weapons, but that it would be ‘too simplistic’ to identify a ‘single red line.’As for British Prime Minister David Cameron’s last month’s statements to Al Arabiya where he said that a safe passage could be provided to Bashar al-Assad should he decide to leave, Hague was asked if there was any new information or updates on that front, particularly given recent media report indicating that he might be considering a Latin American country as a refuge. The British Foreign Secretary clarified that he had no information on that front and added that Assad had several opportunities to leave in the past if he wanted. Hague is in Bahrain to take part in the “Manama Dialogue” where he spoke at a special plenary session on the influence of a special plenary session on the influence of sectarian politics in regional security. The 8th IISS Regional Security Summit – Manama Dialogue is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and was inaugurated last night by the Crown Prince of Bahrain, HRH Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.