David Miliband Ducks the Issue
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 28th October, 2008
The Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, has been visiting London, which made yesterday’s US helicopter assault on an alleged senior al-Qaida operative inside Syria unfortunately timed for Britain’s and Europe’s efforts to bring Syria in from the diplomatic cold. Mr al-Muallem and his British counterpart, David Miliband, were due to hold a joint press conference following their talks, but this was cancelled, as our Foreign Secretary repotedly did not wish to answer questions about the US attack. I bet he didn’t.
Meanwhile, the Syrians – who say the fatalities were all local civilians — are screaming justifiably but impotently and both Iran and Russia have joined in the condemnation of what Mr al-Muallem described as Washington’s ‘cowboy politics’. The British government is keeping schtum. That is inevitably being interpreted across the Middle East as tacit approval for what the Americans have done.
One would have thought that during the twilight weeks of the Bush presisidency, the Bush Doctrine would have been quietly laid to rest. But not a bit of it. Pre-emptive strikes and raids into sovereign territory — recently in Pakistan too — continue, with apparently not a care about ‘collateral damage’. The families of the deceased are naturally grieving. But the wider Islamic world is angry. And David Miliband’s silence looks miserably like complicity.