Man City owner criticised for meeting Syria president and Putin ally Bashar al-Assad
It was Al-Assad's first visit to an Arab country since the Syrian civil war began
Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour has been criticised by the UK government and MPs for meeting Syrian president and Vladimir Putin ally Bashar al-Assad.
Mansour, who has owned City since 2008, is the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Earlier this week, Assad made his first visit to an Arab country since the Syrian civil war began 11 years ago.
Putin provided military support to the Syrian government during the Syrian civil war, which has been condemned by the United Nations.
Mansour has therefore been criticised for meeting with Assad given his links to the Russian president and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.
A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) condemned Assad’s visit, saying: "It is the UK’s firm belief that — in the absence of a change in behaviour by the Syrian regime — strengthening ties undermines the prospect of a lasting and inclusive peace in Syria."
“President Bashar Al-Assad arrived in the country earlier today, where he was received at the Dubai International Airport by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.” Sheikh Mansour was part of the meetings both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. https://t.co/dCFmaJlJtH
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) March 18, 2022
Labour MP Chris Bryant, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia, reiterated the FCDO's concerns on the topic.
He told The Telegraph on Saturday: "What is it that people don’t get? There’s been a form of barbarous, sustained murder going on in Syria, run jointly by Assad, and now Putin is doing exactly the same in a barbaric war of aggression against innocent sovereign Ukraine.
"And some people want to meet up with the bully boys?"
Bryant also questioned whether City owner Mansour was a "fit and proper person to be owning a football club", suggesting that it would be "good to see the back of him".
The Labour MP has previously criticised Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich before the Chelsea owner was sanctioned by the UK government on March 10.
The Blues owner then announced his intention to sell the London club, with a sale expected in the coming days after bidding window for Chelsea closed at 9pm on Friday with a shortlist of offers set to be finalised by the start of next week.
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