British diplomats are secretly plotting to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad escape justice for his alleged war crimes, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The shock move comes only months after Assad’s most recent chemical attacks – and follows Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s declaration that he is an ‘arch terrorist’ who should face a criminal probe for his part in the war which has killed half a million people.
The secret UK plan to ensure the dictator clings to power for the foreseeable future and avoids being put on trial is revealed in a letter written by a Foreign Office Minister.
The plan as set out by the Minister represents a huge climbdown by Mr Johnson and Theresa May. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister said Assad had ‘no future’ in Syria and he should be removed from office.
In the leaked document, the Minister says that Britain will agree to Assad staying in office but he cannot continue to rule Syria indefinitely. He adds: ‘There is a change afoot albeit with a clear retirement/exile plan for Assad to be agreed.’ Last night, security experts said Britain’s U-turn on Assad was regrettable but also inevitable given the political stalemate in Syria.
Former British Army officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, who has helped to expose the Syrian dictator’s use of banned chemical weapons, said: ‘Without question Assad is a war criminal who should face justice. But the truth is we can’t dictate terms to President Assad or his ally President Putin.
‘We need progress towards a peace settlement and if appeasing this brutal dictator is the price, then so be it.