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Arab Spring a security threat to Britain, Defence Chief warns: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 6. December 23, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Al Qaeda, British Foreign Policy, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Islam.
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General Sir David Richards

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Arab Spring could lead to outbreaks of Islamist unrest in Britain, the Chief of the Defence Staff has warned.

In a lecture given to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 14 December 2011,General Sir David Richards said radicalization born of the regime changes across the Middle East might well pose a domestic security threat for the U.K.

However, the collapse of the euro was Britain’s most immediate danger.  “I am clear that the single biggest strategic risk facing the UK today is economic rather than military,” Sir David said.

“This is why the eurozone crisis is of such huge importance,” he said, as “no country can defend itself if bankrupt.”

In his year in review address to the RUSI, the defence chief highlighted Britain’s strategic risks and opportunities.  The United States’ new strategic focus on Asia had lead to a refinement of the special relationship between the U.S. and U.K.  “I know this does not mean it will turn its back on Europe and NATO but countries this side of the pond need to think through what this means to us,” he said.

“NATO is the bedrock of our security,” Sir David said, and had “guaranteed peace in Europe for 60 years and, as Libya and Afghanistan demonstrate, enables us to project power efficiently in concert with others to pursue our national interests.”

But a changing world will see “new groupings” emerge.  “The most obvious is our alliance with the French,” he said, adding that military ties were now stronger than the “Entente Cordiale of a century ago.”

The military alliance with France was a “vehicle for joint action.  Libya sealed this for us and demonstrated the benefits to Britain, Europe and NATO of having a solid Franco-British core.”

He added that the UK “will require other carefully chosen alliances over the coming decade through which to influence the strategic landscape and help determine the outcome of fast moving crises, all at minimum cost. “

The nature of the risks facing Britain was also changing. “What is happening in Syria is in many experts view becoming a proxy conflict between Shia Iranians and Sunni Arabs,” Sir David said.

There was also the “risk that the Arab awakening leads to fissures and internal conflict that could be exported, including militant Islamism,” he said.

Departing from his prepared speech the general added that militant Islam and the Arab world have “diasporas reaching back to this country, as does Pakistan and other states struggling with instability.”