A group of British legislators is urging the government to revoke the citizenship of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s British-born wife, Asma Assad.
Some Liberal Democrats in Parliament sent a letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Sunday, saying Asma Assad should not be able to represent her husband and retain British nationality.
“The First Lady of Syria has acted, not as a private citizen, but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency,” said Liberal Democrat shadow foreign secretary Tom Brake in a statement.
“This is a barbarous regime, yet Asma al-Assad has continued to use her international profile to defend it, even after the chemical weapons atrocity,” the letter read, in reference to an alleged gas attack earlier this month by Assad’s military on civilians in rebel-held territory that killed over 80 people, many of them children.
“As the Assad regime has presided over a sickening civil war that has brought instability to the region and enabled terrorism to flourish, the justification seems clear. She enjoys dual nationality so would still remain a citizen of the country – and the regime – to which she is so publicly committed.”
Asma Assad was educated in Britain and worked as an investment banker before she married in 2000.
“The government is entitled to deprive someone of their citizenship if it is conducive to the public good because that person has prejudiced the interests of the United Kingdom,” Brake’s statement added.
Britain has called for her husband to leave the presidency and condemned his use of chemical weapons.
Earlier on Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called Assad an “arch-terrorist” and said it was time Russia realized he is “literally and metaphorically toxic.”
Johnson said Assad’s ally Moscow still had time to be on the “right side of the argument,” in a Sunday Telegraph newspaper article.
“Assad uses chemical weapons because they are not only horrible and indiscriminate. They are also terrifying,” Johnson wrote.
“In that sense he is himself an arch-terrorist, who has caused such an unquenchable thirst for revenge that he can never hope to govern his population again.
“He is literally and metaphorically toxic, and it is time Russia awoke to that fact. They still have time to be on the right side of the argument.”
Johnson was widely criticized for failing to get the G7 to back his bid for new sanctions against senior Russian and Syrian figures following the chemical weapons attack.
But he said the chemical assault had changed the West’s stance on Syria.
“The UK, the US and all our key allies are of one mind: we believe that this was highly likely to be an attack by Assad, on his own people, using poison gas weapons that were banned almost 100 years ago,” he wrote.
“Let us face the truth: Assad has been clinging on. With the help of Russians and Iranians, and by dint of unrelenting savagery, he has not only recaptured Aleppo. He has won back most of ‘operational’ Syria.”
Before the April 4 chemical attack, the West was “on the verge of a grim consensus,” which had now changed, said Johnson.
The consensus had been that it would be more sensible to concentrate on the fight against Islamic State jihadists and to accept reluctantly that removing Assad, “though ultimately essential — should await a drawn out political solution.”