FOREIGN AFFAIRS – SYRIA – 6 February 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: While the immediate priority must obviously be to maximise pressure to put an end to the slaughter, what longer-term assessments have been made about the likely complexion of any successor regime to the dictatorship?

[The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): As I said in answer to the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), there are many shades of opinion among the Syrian opposition. When I met members of the Syrian National Council, they were very clear about their commitment to an open and democratic society and to the protection of minorities. I have no reason to doubt them on that, but there will be many influences at work, so it is very difficult to make a prediction or give an accurate answer to my hon. Friend's question. All I can say is that we will continue to urge the various opposition groups to adopt the open and democratic principles in which we, too, believe.]