U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will visit a Syrian refugee camp on the Jordanian border today as he tries to increase the pressure on President Bashar Al-Assad to quit and bolster a key regional ally.
Foreign Secretary William Hague plans to say today that he has authorized British diplomats to have direct contact with military members of the Syrian opposition, according to a person familiar with his agenda who declined to be identified because the announcement isn't yet public.
Cameron arrived in Jordan late yesterday on the third leg of his regional tour, which also saw him visit the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Earlier in the day, he suggested Assad could be offered safe passage out of the country if it ended the bloodshed.
“I am very frustrated that we can’t do more,” Cameron told Al Arabiya television. “This is an appalling slaughter that is taking place in our world today -- 40,000 lives lost already and you can see, on your television screens, night after night, helicopters, aeroplanes belonging to the Assad regime pounding his own country and murdering his own people.”
The prime minister has supported many of the uprisings known as the Arab Spring, most prominently in Libya, where the U.K., France and the U.S. committed air forces to support the rebels. He will announce more money to support Syrian rebels today, while continuing to refuse them arms.
“We must ask ourselves what more can we do: how can we help the opposition?” he told Al Arabiya. “How can we put the pressure on Assad? How can we work with partners in the region to turn this around?”
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN peace envoy for Syria, made similar remarks to Cameron’s in an interview published today in the pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper.
If the crisis is left unresolved, Syria may descend into warlordism, with “the total collapse of the state and Syria turning into a new Somalia,” he said.
Britain counts Jordan as a longstanding defense ally. British and Jordanian military units regularly carry out exercises in Jordan and King Abdullah II trained at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in England.