Syria situation 'like 1990s Bosnia'
11 June 2012
The ongoing violence and political unrest in Syria has left the situation in the country looking increasingly like Bosnia in the 1990s, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.
Syria's political unrest begin during the initial stages of the pro-democracy 'Arab Spring' movement in early 2011, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has remained in power throughout, often using military force against anti-government protesters. The United Nations estimates that some 10,000 civilians have been killed in the violence to date.
Asked by Sky News about the possibility of military intervention in the country, Hague said the UK did not know how the situation might develop.
"Syria is, as I said in the last couple of weeks, on the edge of a collapse or of a sectarian civil war so I don't think we can rule anything out," said Hague.
"But it is not so much like Libya last year, where of course we had a successful intervention to save lives. It is looking more like Bosnia in the 1990s, being on the edge of a sectarian conflict in which neighbouring villages are attacking and killing each other so I don't think we can rule anything out.
"But it does mean ... there is an increasing commonality of analysis with Russia. The Russians are concerned about that scenario."
Hague said he hoped Russia could be persuaded to use its "leverage" to support a six-point peace plan devised by UN Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The plan has so far failed to stop fighting, despite coming into force in mid-April.
"Of course, we will keep talking to the Russians about how we can do this," Hague said of the plan. "International unity, behind an actual plan of action for transition in Syria, is, as I say, the only way to bring the killings to an end. Every other solution to the Syrian crisis involves a lot more death.
"If we had international agreement insisting on the Annan plan being implemented then there would be access to the whole of Syria for monitors who are currently being shot at by supporters of the regime, to monitor the ceasefire, armed forces would be pulled back from populated areas in Syria, a political process in which Syrians can decide their own future can begin and there would be access to the whole country for aid agencies.
"In the meantime we have to continue to try and find a united position with Russia on the way forward.
"If all of that fails then of course we will be returning to the Security Council for further measures, we will be asking all the countries in the Friends of Syria to step up the isolation of the regime, we will be greatly increasing our support for the opposition. But all of that would be second best to an agreed way forward."