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MPs Caution UK on Arming Libyan Rebels

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TEHRAN, March 31 (ICANA) – Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that Britain agrees with the US on UN security resolution 1973, which allows 'all necessary measures' to be taken to protect civilians in Libya and could permit the supply of arms to rebel forces in Libya.
Thursday, March 31, 2011 11:26:10 AM
MPs Caution UK on Arming Libyan Rebels

'Our view is that this would not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance to those protecting civilians in certain circumstances,' the prime minister said of the resolution passed earlier this month.

'We do not rule it out but we have not taken the decision to do so,' he told parliament, while Foreign Secretary William Hague further clarified that the UK government's legal advice on UN 1973 resolution does allow Libyan rebels to be armed in certain circumstances.

But a succession of MPs expressed caution about the legality based upon differing interpretations of the UN resolution and the unforeseen and long-term consequences of arming Libyan rebels.

While former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind argued it was “permissible,” former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw said it was a matter of the legal advice from the attorney general and then the “advisability” of providing arms and not jeopardising Arab support.

Former Defence secretary Bob Ainsworth also warned the British government about having only “shallow knowledge” of who it may be arming and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Richard Ottaway emphasised that in any event, it could be only arms to protect and not to carry out regime change.

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner reminded Hague not to repeat the example of mistake made by the US government in providing arms to the Afghan mujahideen to fight the Russian occupation that had unexpected long-term consequences.

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