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Middle East and North Africa

Volume 525: debated on Monday 14 March 2011

19. What recent assessment he has made of the implications for his Department’s policies of the security situation in the middle east and north Africa. (45714)

In response to the changing security situation in the middle east and north Africa, work is under way to understand the implications that the changing environment will have on our policies in the wider region.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Will he give an assurance that our regional basing and overflight rights will ensure that we can effectively deploy ground attack aircraft in the region if necessary?

The assumption that we made in the SDSR was that we had sufficient basing and overflight rights to be able to project air power where required. Nothing has happened in recent days to change that assumption.

The Secretary of State has rightly focused on Libya and the excellence of our operations there, but can he assure the House that his policies, in regard to resource and planning, are also focused on what might happen in other north African countries if evacuations or operations were required there?

My hon. Friend is of course correct. We are looking not only at what is happening in Libya but at other countries in the region where there has been instability in recent times. They include countries such as Yemen, where we already have forward positioning of assets, should we be required to evacuate any British nationals.