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
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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.


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.