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Sudan and Syria: Politics and Government

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL17711, tabled on 4 September 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 31 July (HL17137), what considerations led them to adopt the positions that “the Assad regime has lost all legitimacy” and that they “have no intention of encouraging the Global Coalition to cooperate with its security forces”; whether they have applied similar considerations in developing their position on Sudan; and, if so, how those considerations were applied to their decision to engage in strategic dialogue with the regime there.

Answered on

9 September 2019

This answer is a correction from the original answer.

The basis for reaching the conclusion that the Assad regime has lost all legitimacy is the clear evidence of the atrocities the regime has committed against the Syrian people, as documented by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria and other independent bodies. These atrocities include, but are not limited to, the repeated use of chemical weapons; repeated violations of international humanitarian law including attacks on civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals; and systematic use of torture, including sexual violence, and summary execution against those suspected of opposition to the regime. As the regime's security forces have played a major role in directing and committing these atrocities, we have no intention of encouraging the Global Coalition to cooperate with them.

The UK policy towards Sudan has been one of clear and public condemnation of human rights abuses, alongside a very limited process of engagement to explain to the Sudanese Government what needed to change in order that Sudan could progress and their relations with the international community could improve. As the protest movement gathered pace in 2018 and 2019, we publicly supported the calls of those protestors and pressured the government to heed those demands. Our approach has been described by many in the protest movement, and those now in government, as well judged and critical.

Our engagement with Sudan's former regime sought to maintain pressure on the then Sudanese authorities to make democratic reforms. The Strategic Dialogues also enabled us to have frank and constructive exchanges on pressing issues such as increasing protections for human rights and macroeconomic reform; the resolution of conflict and matters related to UN peacekeeping; and, to address shared threats including terrorism, modern slavery and illegal migration. We repeatedly raised our deep concern, both publicly and directly on a range of issues, including the response to the protest movement. The UK, alongside Troika partners (US and Norway) and Canada, made clear in a statement of 8 January that the (then) Government of Sudan's actions and decisions towards protestors would impact our approach to future engagement.

Following the overthrow of Omar al Bashir, an agreement was reached between the Transitional Military Council and Forces of Freedom and Change who represented the protestors. The UK welcomes the appointment of a civilian led government and Prime Minister Hamdok's agenda of freedom, peace and justice for all in Sudan. We are engaging with him and the newly formed government on how best we can practically support these ambitions towards Sudan's democratic transition. In addition to supporting the reforms and changes that the people of Sudan deserve, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need across Sudan.

Original answer

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.