5 New partnerships |
126. The Arab Spring has brought about different
levels of change to the leaderships and institutions of Tunisia,
Egypt and Libya, but in each state it has already brought about
a new set of international partners with whom the FCO must build
relations. In this section we consider some of the key changes
to the relationship between the UK and these three states, as
well as particular concerns during the transitional period.
UK-Tunisia bilateral relationship
127. Prior to the revolution, the UK's Embassy
in Tunisia was one of our smallest in the region and the FCO described
the UK's bilateral relationship with Tunisia as "limited".
It attributed this mainly to the closed nature of the Ben Ali
regime but added that the presence in the UK of Rachid Ghannouchi,
a leading Tunisian opposition figure, and the UK's "policy
of contact with opposition parties and human rights groups in
Tunisia" also "triggered negative reactions" from
the Tunisian government.
128. Despite this, the FCO told us that "our
access to decision-makers on trade and investment issues was generally
the UK's presence in the Tunisian market is a low 1% of Tunisian
imports, the UK is the market leader in Tunisia's energy sector.
We were told that Tunisia's "significant appetite" for
English language cooperation meant that the British Council had
forged ties with the ministry of education and was supporting
an overhaul of English language teaching in all secondary schools
"with a view to influencing the coming generation and opening
up the country to wider influence."
129. Following the fall of the Ben Ali regime,
an interim government was announced on 17 January 2011. The Foreign
Secretary spoke to Tunisia's Foreign Minister and its President
on 24 and 25 January respectively and was the first Foreign Minister
to visit Tunis, on 8 February. The FCO told us that "the
swiftness of this response has been widely recognised in Tunisia
as putting the UK at the forefront of those supporting the transition."
Since then, the UK has hosted three Tunisian ministerial level
visits, including a recent visit by Tunisian Foreign Minister
Rafik Abdessalam on 28 March 2012. The Foreign Secretary has visited
Tunisia twice and Alistair Burt has visited Tunisia three times
since its revolution.
130. Despite a general understanding that the
UK is starting from a lower position in Tunisia compared to other
EU countries, witnesses to this inquiry were on the whole optimistic
about the future of the relationship and suggested that there
was an appreciation in Tunisia of what the UK could offer. Intissar
Kherigi and Dr Claire Spencer both pointed out that a number of
Tunisian opposition figures who lived in exile in the UK, including
Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem and Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi,
had now returned to Tunisia. Dr Spencer suggested that the UK
could help to raise its profile in Tunisia by, for example, "making
a virtue of having hosted Mr Ghannouchi over all his years of
Kherigi noted that Mr Ghannouchi's political party, Ennahda, favoured
a parliamentary system based on the Westminster model, concluding
that "there are very valuable opportunities for providing
political assistance that will feed in to a long term process."
131. While disagreeing with the suggestion that
the bilateral relationship was beginning from a low base, the
Minister told us that Tunisia was looking to the UK "much
more than it did in the past," adding that the UK is "seeking
to make the very most of that."
We conclude that the UK should
continue to pursue stronger ties with Tunisia and should encourage
Tunisian former exiles to maintain a relationship with the UK
and with the British embassy in Tunisia even after they have returned
to their first home.
Trade and investment
132. Both the British and Tunisian governments
have consistently expressed a desire to increase trade and investment
between the UK and Tunisia. Tunisia's economy was badly affected
by the revolution, which prompted over 80 foreign companies to
leave Tunisia and caused foreign direct investment to fall by
20%. In a statement
about the visit of the Tunisian Foreign Minister in March, the
Foreign Secretary expressed support:
British companies are significant investors in the
energy and tourism sectors. There is real potential for expansion.
We are working with the Tunisian Government to create openings
in other areas where the UK is a global leader, such as renewable
energy and financial services, and these initiatives in turn would
create new job opportunities for the Tunisian people.
133. The Government also drew our attention to
events run by UK Trade and Investment that had generated "a
good level of interest" in business opportunities in Tunisia.
Dr Spencer asked that the Government consider the provision
of expertise rather than simply providing funding, suggesting
that the UK could play a valuable role by helping to facilitate
relationships between young British and Tunisian entrepreneurs,
and by providing technical and managerial expertise on how to
grow small companies.
The UK also continues to have a strong tourist presence in Tunisia.
After a drop in numbers immediately after the revolution, 31,000
British tourists visited Tunisia in May 2012 following a strong
marketing campaign in Britain by the Tunisian tourist office,
which described the UK as "one of our most resilient markets".
that there is great potential for the UK and Tunisia to improve
their bilateral trade and investment to their mutual benefit.
UK support for transition: visibility
134. The UK's Arab Partnership Fund has provided
£1.2 million of support to Tunisia in 2011/12 for projects
on political participation, good governance and economic reform.
However, both Intissar Kherigi and Dr Claire Spencer raised concerns
that these UK programmes supporting the transition were not particularly
visible in the region, nor is it well-understood how they are
allocated. On Tunisia, Intissar Kherigi told us:
It is felt that, while we see announcements of funding
being made, the follow-up to thatwhere the funds actually
go, whether they are actually allocated, and in what wayis
missing at the grass roots level
Another Tunisia observer, Alexander Lambeth,
has reportedly argued that DfID's donations to the African Development
Bank are also not well known, saying that "the French and
German development agencies have a much louder presence than the
that the value of the Arab Partnership and DfID funding as a tool
of UK soft power and sign of British support for democratisation
will be limited if its projects are not visible to most of the
public in those countries.
TUNISIA AS AN INTERNATIONAL PARTNER
135. Tunisia's new government has been significantly
more active in its foreign policy than it was under the previous
leadership of President Ben Ali, suggesting that it might be willing
to play a more active international role. This has been particularly
evident with regard to the Maghreb, as Tunisia's new president,
Moncef Marzouki, visited a number of North African states in February
in a bid to revive the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA). The Minister
welcomed this development, stating that the UK had long considered
Maghreb integration to be an important objective, particularly
given its potential for easing the economic pressures in the region.
136. Tunisia had also been bold in its approach
to the Syrian crisis, expelling the Syrian Ambassador and hosting
the first international 'Friends of Syria' meeting on 24 February
2012, which was attended by the UK Foreign Secretary. The Minister
concluded that in light of Tunisia's "very active" approach,
"we do see the prospects for developing a good, sound relationship
on foreign policy issues with friends in Tunisia."
UK-Egypt bilateral relationship
137. The FCO told us that the UK's relationship
with Egypt remains strong, and stated that:
The FCO's overarching priority is to see Egypt continue
as an effective commercial and political partner of the UK, contributing
to peace and stability in the region and representing an example
of successful reform.
138. Egypt has long been a key commercial partner
for the UK. The UK is the largest foreign direct investor in Egypt
with over $20 billion invested, and Egypt is also the UK's third
largest trading partner in Africa. Tourism ties are also strong;
over 1.5 million British nationals visit Egypt every year.
139. The FCO told us that Egypt was central to
some of the UK's main foreign policy goals, including the Middle
East Peace Process, Sudan, Iran and nuclear non-proliferation.
In addition, President Mubarak cooperated with the US and UK on
counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation concerns. Given this
cooperation, the UK has understandably been seen as close to the
Mubarak regime, as well as a supporter of US policy. A Chatham
House workshop conducted with Egyptian participants in April 2011
While the participants did not all see UK-Egypt relations
as entirely negative, they did all perceive the UK as having played
a part in supporting the Mubarak regime. Although the US was identified
as having been the greatest supplier of military aid to Egypt,
little differentiation was made between the foreign policies of
the US, the UK and the EU, all of which were perceived to have
been supporters of Mubarak's regime.
The FCO emphasised to us that it had regularly pressed
the Egyptian authorities on issues of political reform, freedom
of religion, and lifting the emergency laws.
Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
140. The UK was swift to establish contact with
the new leadership in Egypt. Two days after President Mubarak
stepped down, on 13 February the Foreign Secretary spoke to the
Egyptian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. On 15 February the
Prime Minister spoke to Field Marshal Tantawi, who headed the
Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The FCO told us that both
calls included discussion of the need for a clear timetable for
democratic transition. On 21 February, only 10 days after the
end of the Mubarak regime, the Prime Minister extended a scheduled
trip to the Gulf in order to visit Cairo, becoming the first foreign
leader to arrive in post-revolutionary Egypt.
He met Field Marshal Tantawi, Prime Minister Shafiq and Foreign
Minister Aboul Gheit, as well as democratic activists who had
taken part in the revolution, and visited Tahrir Square.
141. Egypt's transition period under the executive
control of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has
been considerably more unstable and subject to sudden and unexpected
twists and turns than that of Tunisia. Most damagingly, the SCAF's
leadership during the transition has been widely criticised and
doubts have emerged as to the extent to which the old order, or
the Egyptian 'deep state', has been overturned, and relations
between the transitional authorities in SCAF and the newly-elected
Muslim Brotherhood have sharply deteriorated. Although the SCAF
has repeatedly offered assurances that it intends to hand over
executive power at the end of the transition, some Egyptian and
international observers have increasingly doubted whether the
army will be willing to give up its privileged position in Egyptian
society after decades of holding power and influence and to submit
to civilian government. The political situation has remained tense
and the transition has seen a number of large scale protests and
violent clashes with the Egyptian authorities, and the SCAF has
been further criticised for its heavy-handed approach to protests
and its use of military courts to try civilian protestors.
142. Despite these concerns, some progress has
been made. Largely peaceful elections that were considered broadly
free and fair took place for the Egyptian parliamentary assembly
in November 2011-January 2012, and for the presidency in May-June
2012, although the latter was dogged by controversy over a number
of candidates who were barred from running by an Egyptian court,
and a failure to agree a constitution that would delineate the
new President's powers.
143. However, a number of decisions by Egyptian
authorities over the last few weeks have prompted alarm that the
SCAF is attempting to consolidate its control of parts of the
Egyptian state. In early June, an Egyptian court made up of Mubarak-era
appointees which was considering allegations that one third of
the parliamentary elections were flawed surprised many by declaring
the entire Egyptian parliamentary elections void and dissolved
the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament just days before the
presidential elections. On the day of the presidential elections,
the SCAF issued a 'constitutional declaration' granting itself
considerable power and autonomy, control over Egypt's foreign
and defence policy, reinstating its ability to detain civilians,
and a significant role in the constituent assembly that will draft
the country's new constitution. The move prompted domestic outcry
and accusations of a "military coup", as well as significant
144. The SCAF has since appeared to pull back
from the brink. After a delay in announcing the results of the
election, in which both presidential candidates claimed victory,
it was announced that the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice
Party candidate, Dr Mohamed Mursi, had won. There have also
been reports in the media that the court's decision to dissolve
parliament could be reversed, and a court has overturned the army's
power to arrest civilians.
Nevertheless, the new Egyptian president will take up the role
in the absence of either a parliament or constitution, and with
the role of the SCAF and Egyptian army still unresolved.
145. It is disappointing that
the Egyptian people had such a limited and polarising choice of
presidential candidates. However, now that Egypt has chosen a
president the UK should provide support and assistance to President
Mursi to help him achieve much-needed stability in Egypt and a
transfer to civilian control.
146. The UK's relationship with Egypt's Muslim
Brotherhood, which has emerged as the major political force in
the country, has developed over the last year. The Minister told
us that although in the past the United Kingdom had almost no
relations with the Muslim Brotherhood at all, the Government had
"been on a recalculation of relationship", which he
described as "cautious and step by step". Recognising
their success in free and fair elections, and noting that the
manifesto of the Freedom and Justice Party (the Muslim Brotherhood's
political wing) "did not cause the United Kingdom any particular
concern", the Minister told us that there had been "a
gradual step-up of engagement" and noted that "in the
future, prime ministerial engagements will be possible if the
elections confirm the present trend and the Muslim Brotherhood
and its parties maintain their positions in relation to moderate
policies, human rights protection and the like."
147. More than one submission highlighted that
the Prime Minister did not meet any members of the Muslim Brotherhood
on his visit to Egypt in February 2011. According to MEMO: "To
many observers, this was a missed opportunity to reach out to
the forces that currently lead the process of democratic change
in Egypt. Whether we like it or not, the Muslim Brotherhood remains
one of the most influential political bodies in Egypt and the
The Muslim Brotherhood's English language website referred
to the "snub", and stated that it believed that the
UK was "mirroring US suspicions because the Brotherhood seeks
a democracy based on Islamic principles."
At the time, when the Prime Minister was asked why he had not
met any of the Muslim Brotherhood he replied that:
Part of the problem is that people say, either you
have the Muslim Brotherhood or the old regime. But actually most
of Tahrir Square was taken up with people who want more openness
My argument is that by opening up societies,
opening up participation, you give particularly young men something
to believe in other than a more extreme Islamic route.
However, Mr Burt responded to questions about the
trip by stating that it was simply "an issue of time. The
Prime Minister does not need to meet everyone on foreign trips."
The Foreign Secretary has since met with a member of the Muslim
conclude that with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been
beneficial if the Prime Minister had met the Muslim Brotherhood
in Egypt in February 2011, particularly given the election of
the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Dr Mohamed Mursi as President
of Egypt in June 2012.
148. Following the announcement that Dr Mohamed
Mursi had won the Egyptian Presidential elections, the Prime Minister
wrote to President Mursi to congratulate him on his victory, and
to welcome his statement that he intends to form an inclusive
government. The Prime Minister emphasised the need for functioning
democratic institutions and a broad representative government.
the Government's willingness to work with the Muslim Brotherhood
in Egypt and we urge the Government to deepen its engagement at
this early stage in order to demonstrate the assistance and support
available to those who respect human rights and democratic reforms.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN EGYPT
149. The transition period has not witnessed
the improvement in human rights that had been hoped. Human rights
organisations have expressed increasing alarm, with Amnesty International
Egypt's military rulers have completely failed to
lived up to their promises to Egyptians to improve human rights
and have instead been responsible for a catalogue of abuses which
in some cases exceeds the record of Hosni Mubarak.
Human rights abuses include the use of military trials
to prosecute civilian protestors, allegations that 'virginity
tests' were performed by military physicians on female protestors,
and arrests of foreign and Egyptian NGO workers. The transition
has also been marred by sectarian clashes between Egypt's Muslim
and Coptic Christian communities. The Government told us that
it had made representations to the Egyptian authorities on all
of the above issues. The FCO's 2011 Report on Human Rights and
Democracy, published on 30 April 2012, recorded the Government's
concern over the human rights situation in Egypt, and the FCO
committed to review the Egyptian case in six months' time.
150. The human rights situation
in Egypt under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' leadership
is a matter of serious concern, and we welcome the Government's
recognition that extra monitoring is required. The UK should maintain
a consistent and robust approach to supporting human rights in
Egypt and should prioritise women's rights and the rights of religious
minorities as particularly under threat.
151. Lord Malloch-Brown commented that alongside
the US, the UK had adeptly "switched sides" at the time
of the revolution, although it had not wholly been able to escape
its past. While visiting Egypt, we observed that there remained
notable scepticism about UK interests in the region, as well as
popular conspiracies that hugely inflated the amount of Egyptian
assets held in the UK. Several of our interlocutors expressed
particular dissatisfaction that former Mubarak associates and
Ministers were thought to be living in the UK. We put these concerns
to the Minister, who insisted that the UK must follow due legal
process, and that "if we are honest and transparent in what
we say about our processes, which can be objectively checked by
anyone in the Egyptian system, I do not think it harms our reputation
for supporting Egypt".
that some degree of scepticism about the UK's intentions is to
be expected, but a poor perception of the UK among the Egyptian
public is of increasing concern as Egypt's political leaders become
more responsive to public opinion. The FCO should dedicate further
staff resources to its public diplomacy in Egypt.
EGYPT AS AN INTERNATIONAL PARTNER:
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
152. The departure of President Mubarak, who
was closely aligned with US foreign policy in the region, threw
into doubt Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel and the wider
Middle East Peace Process. Both the SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood
were quick to affirm that they would abide by all existing treaties,
including those with Israel. However, there have been a number
of worrying indications of public anger against Israel, including
the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo by Egyptian protestors
on 10 September 2011 following the deaths of five Egyptian security
officers in an incident on the Sinai border, and a symbolic vote
by the Egyptian Parliament in March 2012 in support of expelling
Israel's Ambassador in Cairo and halting gas exports to Israel.
At the same time, the Egyptian government has opened the Rafah
crossing between Gaza and Egypt and adopted the role of mediator,
moving quickly in 2011 to negotiate an agreement between Hamas
and Fatah to work toward a unity government and elections. More
recently, following four days of cross border-attacks in March
2012, Egypt reportedly brokered a truce between Israel and the
Gaza Strip's Palestinian factions, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
153. The majority of witnesses to this inquiry
have expressed hope that Egypt's new leaders would concentrate
on domestic difficulties and would not provoke conflict. Lord
Malloch-Brown, speaking in January 2012, told us that "the
trend is not good" but concluded that:
I just think that a government that gave in to its
hotheads and went that last step would condemn itself and its
people to economic disruption, no growth, more unemployment, more
internal instability at home. I think Israel will find itself
with a much more uncomfortable neighbour that will press for peace,
but not a neighbour that will hurtle itself and Israel over the
edge into new conflict.
Similarly, Dr Claire Spencer and Dr Eugene Rogan
both said that there will be more pressure on Israel to provide
a settlement. 
154. The FCO acknowledged that "It is difficult
to predict the direction of Egyptian foreign policy in the medium-term."
The Minister told us that he had "no reason to disbelieve
at present" the assurances of Egyptian leaders that they
would abide by the treaties, but he agreed that "we have
to be honestthat is not necessarily the feeling of all
the Egyptian people." He concluded that the situation should
be seen as an opportunity "to inject urgency into the Middle
East Peace Process."
that it is too early to judge if a free and democratic Egypt will
prove to be a stronger partner in the Middle East Peace Process
than Egypt under President Mubarak.
155. The UK has had a turbulent bilateral relationship
with Libya over the last four decades, characterised by suspicions
over the Gaddafi regime's involvement with the terrorist IRA,
and traumatic events including the fatal shooting of WPC Yvonne
Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984 and the
bombing of a Pan Am aeroplane as it passed over the Scottish town
of Lockerbie in 1988. The UK terminated its diplomatic relations
with Libya in 1984 and they were not restored until 1999, when
Lockerbie bombing suspects Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Al Amin Fhimah
were handed over by the Libyan authorities to stand trial, and
Libya made a statement accepting responsibility for the death
of WPC Fletcher.
156. Steps were taken by the previous Government
from approximately 2000 onwards to re-establish some form of relations
with Libya. This diplomatic effort culminated in a meeting between
Prime Minister Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi in Libya in 2004,
which came to be known in the press as the 'deal in the desert'.
The meeting and the subsequent oil and gas commercial contacts
elicited considerable criticism in the press. PLATFORM maintained
that the UK's foreign policy priorities since 2003 had "focused
primarily on improving relationships with the Gaddafi regime and
promoting British business interests, at the expense of human
rights and engaging with popular and oppositional opinion."
PLATFORM added that that this approach had "strengthened
Gaddafi's hand while effectively shunning democratic opposition
movements and those subject to continued human rights violations."
157. The current Foreign Secretary told us last
year that the rapprochement had had three important benefits:
it had ensured that those suspected of the Lockerbie bombing could
be tried; it had resulted in the decommissioning of Libya's Scud
missiles and chemical weapons; and an agreement had been reached
with the Libyans that they would desist from their nuclear programme.
He described this policy as "the right thing to do".
Robin Lamb, Director of the Libyan British Business Council, provided
support for this position, placing the deal in the context of
"a period in which we were focusing in foreign policy on
counter-terrorism and on the fears of development of the weapons
of mass destruction", and arguing that "although the
policy of normalisation is understandably much criticised now,
it did achieve something with Libya". He accepted, however,
that it had not improved the human rights situation.
158. The FCO described its efforts from 2004
onwards to increase bilateral cooperation with Libya in a variety
of fields, including economic and administrative reform, defence
and security cooperation, international affairs and the commercial
relationship. Nevertheless, it characterised the UK's relationship
with Libya by 2010 as "limited". The FCO told us that
its assessment in the years prior to the revolution was that Colonel
Gaddafi intended his children to succeed him in Libya, and that
in the absence of any prominent opposition figures, the prospects
of reform appeared to depend on the attitudes of his close family.
The Government said that it therefore focused its efforts on Saif
al-Islam Gaddafi "as the son most open to talking about reform
and as a family member with strong links to the UK."
159. The UK has worked to re-establish an embassy
presence in Tripoli following the end of the Gaddafi regime. The
FCO told us that the UK Ambassador arrived in Libya ahead of "most
of the comparable countries", and the embassy in Tripoli
formally re-opened in November 2011. The Minister emphasised that
Tripoli was "a significant embassy for us", and explained
that the UK now had a team of over 100 staff in post (compared
to approximately 80 before the revolution), comprising 20 UK-based
staff from across Government; 60 locally engaged staff; a UKTI
team of 10; a defence advisory team of 10; and six Arabic speakers.
160. The UK's leading role in the international
response to the crisis in Libya and its rapid establishment of
links with the National Transitional Council in opposition appears
to have been rewarded with close ties and a warm relationship
with the new Libyan government. The Foreign Secretary has recently
described the UK-Libya relationship as "changed beyond all
recognition". The Henry Jackson Society commented on the
"high levels of goodwill that exist across a broad cross-section
of Libyan society",
and Libyan Ministers have expressed gratitude to the UK for its
response. The Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib visited
the UK in May 2012, where he met the Prime Minister and Foreign
Secretary, among others, and expressed his "wholehearted
appreciation and gratitude for the continued support of both the
British people and Government."
161. The Libyan interim authorities face formidable
challenges, including the need to secure a transfer of control
over parts of the country from militia groups to the central government;
the provision of healthcare, particularly for those wounded in
the civil war; the organisation of elections; the writing of a
new constitution; transitional justice; justice and security sector
reform; infrastructure development; and corruption. The UK has
expressed its willingness to provide support and "stand shoulder
to shoulder" with Libya through its transition, and agreements
were signed between the UK and Libya in May 2012 on health, education,
cultural and civil society cooperation and on open government
and information technology.
162. A number of submissions to this inquiry
have emphasised a need for the UK to engage with Libya on human
rights and justice issues during the transition period, in what
Amnesty International called a "golden opportunity to establish
the norms by which the new Libya will operate".
Detention and torture
163. There has been significant disquiet among
NGOs and observers about the safety of detainees in Libya. Over
7,000 people detained during or after the conflict were believed
to be held by government and militias in Libya by autumn 2011.
Human rights organisations estimate that thousands are still being
held and there have been reports of extra-judicial killings and
International, Reprieve and Medicines Sans Frontieres have all
claimed that there is "widespread torture and ill-treatment"
in post-revolutionary Libya, particularly by militia groups on
Libyans accused of having belonged to pro-Gaddafi forces.
In a speech on the anniversary
of the start of the uprisings in Libya in February 2012, the Foreign
Secretary reaffirmed the UK's commitment to Libya and set out
a number of support programmes, including the Government's intention
hold a conference in the Spring on human rights,
which will look to identify ways the Transitional Government can
take urgent steps to implement commitments made on upholding human
rights and ensure reports of detainee abuse are being addressed.
The Government is correct to press
the Libyan authorities on the need to establish human rights protections
in Libya and to eliminate the use of torture in places of detention.
We recommend that the Government encourage the Libyan authorities
to issue a standing invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on
Torture to visit the country as soon as practicable. In its response
to this report the Government should set out its timetable and
objectives for the conference on human rights in Libya that it
announced in February 2012.
164. The history of grievous human rights abuses
under Colonel Gaddafi, as well as allegations that human rights
abuses and even war crimes were committed by both sides during
the recent conflict, presents a serious challenge for the new
authorities. Amnesty International has called on the Libyan government
to investigate all sides and to ensure that there is no impunity
for human rights abusers.
A number of submissions also pointed to Libya's refusal to hand
over Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and former head of intelligence Abdullah
al-Senussi to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial.
Up to this point, Libya had refused to do so and had stated that
it intends to try the men in Libya.
that the UK should continue to encourage the Libyan authorities
to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and deliver
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi into its control.
The Government should explore options with Libya and the international
community to agree that the suspects could be returned at some
point in the future to stand trial in Libya.
TRADE AND INVESTMENT
165. The UK's commercial ties with Libya under
the Gaddafi regime were a source of significant controversy. Since
the revolution, the UK has been criticised by some business representatives
in the media for not doing enough to promote British business
in Libya. However,
Robin Lamb told us that other states have suffered damage to their
reputation by taking private sector representatives to Libya too
quickly; other evidence agreed, adding that in contrast "Britain
has been patient, for example the oil and gas mission arranged
for January 2012 has been postponed."
On his recent visit to the UK, Prime Minister al Keib stated that
he was "happy to meet with British business leaders to discuss
the opportunities for trade between our two countries." He
was accompanied by Libya's Oil Minister and the Head of the Libyan
Investment Authority. BP has since announced that it intends to
re-start its operations in Libya.
166. Several witnesses to our inquiry warned
the UK against any attempt to secure favourable contracts from
Libya as a form of thanks or of compensation. Robin Lamb, representing
the Libyan-British Business Council acknowledged that "We
may well be in a slightly better position in terms of the view
that is taken of countries that did or did not assist the rebellion,"
but told us that "we do not expect favours. I think that
would be wrong."
We conclude that it is important
that the UK does not squander the goodwill it enjoys in Libya.
The Government should maintain its steady approach to the promotion
of trading ties during Libya's transition.
167. The Government told us that it is discussing
ways in which to address the unresolved 'legacy issues' in the
relationship between the UK and Libya. These include responsibility
for the killing of WPC Fletcher in April 1984, responsibility
for the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, and the Gaddafi regime's support
for the IRA. The new Libyan authorities have indicated that they
are willing to cooperate, and Prime Minister al Keib reinforced
this message on his visit to the UK by laying flowers at the memorial
to WPC Yvonne Fletcher. Officers from the Metropolitan police
force have since travelled to Libya on 11 June 2012 in connection
with the Yvonne Fletcher case.
However, it is not yet clear how, and how quickly, the investigations
will be able to move forward. We
conclude that the Government should negotiate permission for British
investigators in the Lockerbie and Yvonne Fletcher cases to have
access to Gaddafi regime records in Libya as a matter of urgency.
We suspect that resolution of these issues, for all those who
suffered personally, may be more important than financial compensation
for what was done. We encourage the Government to consider the
merits of promoting a resolution which is not contingent on payment
by the Libyan authorities to victims if such payment is an obstacle
to gaining access to information and records.
ALLEGATIONS OF INVOLVEMENT IN EXTRAORDINARY
168. In September 2011, international media reported
that Human Rights Watch had discovered documents in Libyan former
intelligence offices in Tripoli which appeared to indicate that
the UK had provided intelligence to the Libyan authorities in
2004 on a terrorist suspect, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, as a result
of which Mr Belhadj was subject to extraordinary rendition.
Abdul Hakim Belhadj was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting
Group (LIFG), which opposed Gaddafi in the 1990s. He reportedly
moved to Afghanistan after 1998 where he is alleged to have developed
"close relationships" with al-Qaeda leaders and Taliban
chief Mullah Omar, and ran and financed training camps for Arab
mujahedeen fighters, according to an arrest warrant issued by
the Libyan government in 2002. Mr Belhadj was arrested in Thailand
in 2004 and allegedly 'rendered' from Thailand to Libya, where
he was held in the Abu Selim prison until 2010.
Mr Belhadj had since become a commander in the rebel forces and
an important political figure in Libya. He has alleged that the
UK had been involved in the rendition and that he was subsequently
tortured by the Libyan authorities. Another Libyan, Sami al-Saadi,
also made allegations that the UK was involved in his rendition
from Hong Kong to Tripoli, along with this wife and daughters,
despite the risk that they would be tortured.
169. On 12 January 2012, the Director of Public
Prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police Service announced that
allegations relating to Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al-Saadi
and their alleged ill-treatment in Libya were so serious that
it was in the public interest for them to be investigated immediately.
Given that investigations were expected to take many months if
not years, the Justice Secretary announced to the House on 18
January that the Detainee Inquiry, which had been charged with
examining whether Britain was implicated in the improper treatment
of detainees held by other countries, would cease its work. The
Justice Secretary said that "the Government fully intends
to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry, once all police investigations
have concluded, to establish the full facts and draw a line under
The two Libyans have since announced their intention to bring
a civil action against Sir Mark Allen, a former intelligence official,
and Jack Straw MP, who was Foreign Secretary at the time of their
170. The Government has consistently denied any
involvement in the practice of extraordinary rendition. Our predecessor
Committee has commented on allegations about British involvement
in rendition in the past. In its 2005 Report on Foreign Policy
Aspects of the War Against Terrorism, the Committee concluded
that the Government had "failed to deal with questions about
extraordinary rendition with the transparency and accountability
required on so serious an issue", and argued that "If
the Government believes that extraordinary rendition is a valid
tool in the war against terrorism, it should say so openly and
transparently, so that it may be held accountable."
In its Human Rights Annual Report 2005, the Committee concluded
the Government has a duty to enquire into the allegations
of extraordinary rendition and black sites under the Convention
against Torture, and to make clear to the USA that any extraordinary
rendition to states where suspects may be tortured is completely
Since then, our predecessors have pursued allegations
about the use of British Indian Ocean Territory of Diego Garcia
for re-fuelling flights being used in renditions. A compilation
of Committee conclusions and Government statements on renditions
is attached as an annex to this report.
171. When asked about the Libyan rendition allegations,
the Minister was unable to comment on the documents that had allegedly
been discovered. However, he maintained that the UK's relationship
with Libya was "very broad based" and was not "hampered"
by the allegations that the UK participated in these renditions,
or any other "legacy issue". We
are surprised at the Minister's indication that the allegations
of British involvement in rendition and subsequent torture of
two Libyan nationals have had no effect on the UK-Libya relationship.
We conclude that even if the allegations have not caused immediate
damage, they may do in the long-term if there is no adequate investigation
and resolution of the matter. In its response to this report the
Government should set out the progress of police investigations
so far, including whether British police have been given all necessary
access to information held in Libya, and also provide an estimate
as to when it expects police investigations to be completed.
172. We would be deeply disturbed
if assurances given over many years, including assurances given
by Ministers to this Committee's predecessors, that the UK had
not been involved in the rendition of any individuals are proved
to be inaccurate. We expect to return to this issue.
186 Ev 66 Back
Ev 66 Back
Ev 66 Back
Ev 70 Back
Q 63 Back
Q 14 Back
Q 219 Back
Lahcen Achy, "Tunisia's Economy One Year after the Jasmine
Revolution", Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
via Carnegie website (www.carnegieendowment.org) Back
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Foreign Secretary meets
Tunisian Foreign Minister", 29 March 2012, Press release
via FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk). See also HC Deb, 21 March 2012,
col 722W. Back
Q 48 Back
"Tunisian tourism shows signs of recovery", The Telegraph,
14 Jun 2012, via Telegraph website (www.telegraph.co.uk) Back
Q 14 Back
Alexander Lambeth is Director for Africa and the Middle East at
British Expertise. The British Embassy in Tunis has described
British Expertise as the UK's leading association for professional
Interview on with Alexander Lambeth, "Developing Tunisian-British
economic relations", FCO website in Tunis (www.ukintunisia.fco.gov.uk) Back
Q 222 Back
Ev 71 Back
Ev 67 Back
"Egypt in Transition", Workshop Report, April
2011, Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme, via
Chatham House website (www.chathamhouse.org) Back
See, for example, Ev 94-5. Back
Ev 96-97 Back
See, for example, "Egypt in peril", Economist,
23 June 2012, via Economist website (www.economist.com); "How
the army won Egypt's election", The International Herald
Tribune, 3 July 2012, p.8. Back
"Egypt Ruling Clips Military Powers", Wall Street
Journal, 26 June 2012; "New Egyptian president looks
to reinstate parliament", Foreign Policy, 2 July 2012,
via Foreign Policy website (www.foreignpolicy.com) Back
Q 165 Back
Ev 175 Back
"Ignoring the Snubs-The Brotherhood Moves Forward",
Ikhwanweb, 26 February 2011, via Muslim Brotherhood's English
language website (www.ikhwanonline.info) Back
"With David Cameron in Egypt", Economist, 21
February 2011 Back
Q 167 Back
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Prime Minister congratulates
President Mohamed Mursi on his election victory", Press release,
25 June 2012, via FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk) Back
Amnesty International, Egypt: Military rulers have 'crushed' hopes
of 25 January protesters , Press release, 22 November 2011, via
Amnesty International website (www.amnesty.org) Back
HC Deb, 30 April 2012, Col 55W Back
Q 174-5 Back
"Egypt's parliament wants Israel's ambassador out",
Associated Press, 13 March 2012 Back
"Egypt brokers truce between Israel and Gaza", Foreign
Policy, 13 March 2012. See also Ev 161 [Britain Israel Communications
& Research Centre]. Back
Q 112 Back
Q 50 [Dr Claire Spencer] and Q 33 [Dr Eugene Rogan]. See also
Ev 144-146 [Roger Higginson]. Back
Q 188 Back
PLATFORM is a London-based research organization which monitors
the impacts of the British oil industry. Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, Oral and written evidence, Developments
in UK Foreign Policy, 7 September 2011, HC 1471-i, Q24 Back
Q 85-6 Back
Ev 108 Back
Q 228 Back
Ev 196 Back
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Foreign Secretary welcomes
Libyan Prime Minister's visit to the UK", press release,
26 May 2012, via FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk) Back
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Foreign Secretary welcomes
Libyan Prime Minister's visit to the UK", press release,
26 May 2012, via FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk) Back
Ev 216. See also Ev 183 [Human Rights Watch]. Back
Ev 184 [Human Rights Watch], Ev 201 [Royal African Society and
Libya Analysis], Ev 212-3 [Amnesty International] Back
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Reaffirming the UK's commitment
to Libya", press release, 16 February 2012, via FCO website
Amnesty International, "Militias threaten hopes for new
Libya", 16 February 2012. See also Ev 158 [Redress Trust]. Back
Saif al Islam is being held in Zintan in Libya. Abdullah al-Senussi
was detained in Mauritania in March and is still being held. Both
the ICC and Libya have requested his extradition. Ev 212-216 [Amnesty
International] and Ev 183 [Human Rights Watch] Back
Ev 196 [Henry Jackson Society] Back
Q 81 and Ev 204 [Royal African Society and Libya-Analysis.com] Back
Q 101. See also Ev 123 [Eugene Rogan] and Ev 182 [PLATFORM] Back
HC Deb 19 June 2012 col 879W Back
Human Rights Watch, "US/UK: Documents Reveal Libya Rendition
Details", 9 September 2011, via Human Rights Watch website
(www.hrw.org). See also Ev 215 [Amnesty International] Back
"Profile: Libyan rebel commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj",
BBC News Online, 4 July 2012, via BBC website (www.bbc.co.uk) Back
HC Deb, 18 January 2012, col 752 Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2004-05, Foreign
Policy Aspects of the War Against Terrorism, HC 36-I,
para 98 Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, First Report of Session 2005-06, Human
Rights Annual Report 2005, HC 574, para 52 Back