Tue May 2, 2017 09:34AM
The British parliament in session (file photo)
The British parliament in session (file photo)

A UK parliamentary committee has called on the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to stop pursuing US President Donald Trump’s policy in the Middle East and devise its own alternative approach.

The House of Lords International Relations Committee released a much-anticipated report after six month on Tuesday, concluding that Trump’s unpredictable approach to the Middle East risked more instability in the region.

The MPs also warned that Washington’s current policy shows that it would no longer “set the tone” for the West's relationship with the region.

“The mercurial and unpredictable nature of policy-making by President Trump has made it challenging for the UK government to influence US foreign policy so far, a challenge that is not likely to ease,” the report said.

Iran deal

The peers cited Trump’s aggressive rhetoric against the Iran nuclear deal as an example of his unreliable approach.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and US President Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, DC, January 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The committee said London should do more to support the Iran deal, which was signed between Iran and six world powers—the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany—in 2015 and removed all sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for voluntary limitations to its peaceful nuclear program.

The report suggested that the UK and other European Union countries should ease banking regulations with Iran to create new financial opportunities, even if that contrasts America's plans.

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Before and after his election to the White House, Trump has insisted that the agreement was “one of the worst deals ever made.”

Palestinian statehood

The MPs also advised the government to recognize Palestine as a state and show its commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Government should give serious consideration to now recognizing Palestine as a state, as the best way to show its determined attachment to the two-state solution,” they argued.

Trump’s stance on the issue has drawn concern from many allies. He told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House that he would not insist for a two-state solution as the only option.

Syrian conflict

Led by Conservative former Foreign Office minister David Howell, the committee admitted that removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not possible in the foreseeable future and the UK should instead push for a more realistic solution to the years-long conflict.

“The objective of displacing Assad, as a prerequisite of any settlement, with the current means and policy, has proved unachievable,” the report said.

The Trump administration has sent mixed messages with regards to Assad’s future.

Last month, American officials stepped up their calls for Assad to step down over a suspected chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province. Trump even ordered two US Navy warships to fire 59 cruise missiles at an airbase he claimed was used by Assad forces to deliver the chemical munitions.

However, the US head of state made a surprise about-face later on, saying that removing Assad was not his first priority.

This is while, British officials said after the attack that they would join a possible US military initiative in Syria.

Yemen war

The committee also urged the government to take a tougher line with Saudi Arabia over its ongoing aggression against Yemen and reconsider weapons deals with Riyadh regime.

“We recognize the importance of arms sales to the UK economy and the [Persian] Gulf. Arms sales, however, must take place with regard for international obligations,” the report read.

A UK-made Tornado fighter jet belonging to the Saudi air force
A UK-made Tornado fighter jet belonging to the Saudi air force

“The government must demonstrate that its private diplomacy is working. If not, it should speak out clearly at the UN, within the Human Rights Council, condemning violations, intentional or not, in clear terms,” it added.

"Finally, as a last resort, we recommend that the UK should send a political signal, for instance, by suspending some key export licenses, where there is a risk that they could be used in violation of international humanitarian law in Yemen," the further noted.