British MP makes new call for apology to Egypt over Suez

In this photo taken on November 5, 1956, smoke rises from oil tanks beside the Suez Canal that were hit in an air strike during the initial Anglo-French assault on Port Said, Egypt. (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 22 November 2017

British MP makes new call for apology to Egypt over Suez

LONDON: A British MP has made a call for the UK to apologize to Egypt for the 1956 Suez Crisis as it looks to form a “new relationship” with Cairo.

Britain’s position on the global stage was forever altered by its invasion, along with France and Israel, of Egypt in an attempt to wrestle back control of the canal. It later withdrew.

Daniel Kawczynski, an MP for Shrewsbury, said that the move was an “disaster” and “illegal mistake” and issued a call for a formal apology.

“It would be very magnanimous of us as British politicians now, 60 years on, to say ‘Suez was a mistake, we made a mistake, we apologize for that … We ask the Egyptian people for their forgiveness for the mistake that we made, and we ask them to now work with us in a new relationship.’ It takes a lot of guts for a country as large and important as ours (to apologize),” he told Arab News.

Kawczynski said that he would be raising the issue in the UK Parliament.

“There’s a lot of reticence about this issue in the House of Commons. I think there are many people who want to brush this under the carpet, who believe that too much water has flown under the bridge, and that we should just focus on bilateral relations today,” he said.

“But I’ve got some very good trusted Egyptian friends who say to me that this issue would demonstrate to the Egyptian people that the UK is serious about a new relationship with their country.”

The MP also raised the issue of the World War II land mines that British fighters left behind in the Battle of El-Alamein.

The mines have caused more than 8,000 causalities in Egypt since World War II and have led to calls for European forces to hand over maps of where they were planted. Some have argued, however, that the maps would not be of use because of the shifting sands of the Egyptian desert.

Kawczynski said he plans to “ask questions of the government as to what work is being done” to help identify where the mines are buried.

“El-Alamein is strewn with an inordinate amount of mines. And if there is even one death a year in El-Alamein as a result of these mines not being fully mapped, that is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Kawczynski called on the UK government to hand over the maps.

“It’s hugely important. I don’t understand the strategic importance, 70 years on (in not handing over the maps). We ought to be giving as much information to our Egyptian partners as possible to make sure that they know where all these mines are,” he said.

“The idea that our land mines today are causing the deaths of Egyptian citizens … because of a lack of cooperation and engagement between the British government and the Egyptian government on this issue is completely unacceptable.”

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

Updated 20 August 2019

Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

  • The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces
  • After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar

BEIRUT: Jihadists and allied rebels withdrew from a key area of northwestern Syria Tuesday as President Bashar Assad’s forces pressed an offensive against the jihadist-run Idlib region, a war monitor said.
The fighters pulled back from the town of Khan Sheikun and the countryside to its south overnight and in the early hours of Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
On Monday, a Turkish military convoy crossed the border into the Idlib region, sparking condemnation from Damascus as Ankara alleged air strikes had targeted its troops.
The convoy halted just north of Khan Sheikhun on Monday afternoon and remained there on Tuesday, after government forces took control of a section of the highway into the town.
Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said Monday morning’s strike targeted a rebel vehicle scouting the road in front of the Turkish convoy.
“The Syrian army in its own way sent a clear message to the Turkish regime by forcing convoys sent by Ankara to help the terrorists in Khan Sheikhun to come to a halt,” it said.
It was a “clear warning against any Turkish attempt to resuscitate the terrorists,” the paper said, adding that the strike had “Russian support.”
After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Since January, it has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The region of some three million people was supposed to be protected by a Turkish-Russian buffer zone deal signed last year.
But government and Russian forces have subjected it to heavy bombardment since late April, killing more than 860 civilians, according to an Observatory toll.
The United Nations says the shelling and air strikes have also hit dozens of health facilities and caused more than 400,000 people to flee their homes.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people since the rebels first took arms following the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
Rival interventions by outside powers have turned it into a complex conflict with multiple battle fronts that has driven millions of civilians from their homes.