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Red-Faced Britain Drops Syria from Royal Wedding

Britain has removed the Syrian ambassador from its invitation to the upcoming royal wedding, less than 24 hours after saying he was welcome.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/28/2011, 2:52 PM / Last Update: 4/28/2011, 4:43 PM

Britain has removed the Syrian ambassador from its invitation to the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William, less than 24 hours after saying he was welcome.

"In the light of this week's attacks against civilians by the Syrian security forces, which we have condemned, the presence of the Syrian Ambassador at the Royal Wedding would be unacceptable," Foreign Secretary William Hague stated.

Less than a day earlier, a Foreign Office official told the London Independent that although the government has said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s murder of more than 400 civilian protesters is unacceptable, ”the good, the bad and the ugly have been invited to the wedding.”

The source admitted that a feeling of “unease” was prevalent among many diplomats.

The disclosure by British media that Syrian ambassador Dr. Sami Khiyami remained on the invitation list was followed by a quick reversal at the Foreign Office, which had maintained on Wednesday, “We still have diplomatic relations with Syria, just as we do with many other countries with whom we have disagreements."

Criticism among British Members of Parliament was fast and thick. Labor MP Denis MacShane said, "Rolling out the red carpet for petty tyrants who back home chop off people's arms and hands, or in the case of Syria, send tanks to crush peaceful protests, is bordering on the grotesque.”

Britain has not withdrawn the invitations to the Crown Prince of Bahrain, where the government also has violently suppressed a Muslim uprising. However, the Crown Prince, realizing the attention he would attract by attending the wedding, has said he will not appear at the wedding of Prince William, second in line to the British throne to his college girlfriend, Kate Middleton.