Page last updated at 21:07 GMT, Monday, 16 May 2011 22:07 UK

Middle East and North Africa debate

Former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has said that "the lure and possible attraction of al-Qaeda is beginning to wane".

As MPs debated the situation in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan on 16 May 2011, Sir Malcolm said that the Arab Spring demonstrated the "ultimate irrelevance of what al-Qaeda has to offer".

He said that "the hundreds of thousands demonstrating throughout the Arab world" wanted reform and "universal values".

Former chairman of the foreign affairs committee Mike Gapes said Pakistan needed Britain's solidarity following the death of Osama Bin Laden.

He said: "It was not the government of Pakistan that was shielding that man. It was not the Pakistani people. It was certain rogue elements within their society.

"It would be completely wrong as some in the United States congress are calling to punish Pakistan, to cut off economic assistance, to end co-operation."

Meanwhile, a veteran Labour MP lashed out at US President Barack Obama over the "assassination" of Bin Laden.

Sir Gerald Kaufman told MPs: "I shed no tears for Osama Bin Laden, a monster responsible for this century's most lurid atrocity.

"However for Barack Obama to violate another country's sovereignty by sending in an assassination squad must arouse deep concern, especially as the White House has made so many conflicting statements that it is impossible to know what really happened at Abbottabad.

"Was Bin Laden armed and did he seek to resist with arms, thus provoking the Americans to kill him? Did he try to use women as human shields?

"Or was he unarmed? Was any real attempt made to take him alive and put him on trial for his crimes?"

Sir Gerald concluded: "This latest episode confirms to me at any rate that Obama is simply a sanctimonious version of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush."


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