Britain and France are urging the EU to end the embargo on supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, and the French President, Francois Hollande, said France would go ahead by itself and end its part in the embargo.
Other members of the EU have expressed concern that arming the opposition will allow weapons to get into the hands of militant Islamists, fuelling an escalation of violence in the region.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said “We as Germany will be taking a very measured approach. On the one hand it’s dramatic to see that in Syria bloodbaths occur again and again and how many victims there are already. But one also has to make sure that the opposing side doesn’t then get provided with weapons by countries that take a different stance on Assad than Germany,”
The current embargo is due to be reviewed on the 1st June and without unanimous agreement to renew or amend it, the embargo lapses, along with the sanctions.
Echoing comments by Russia, which has protected Assad from any U.N. measures, Syria’s state news agency SANA said arming rebels would be a “flagrant violation of international law”.
As has been widely reported, the Syrian opposition are disorganised and include elements of al-Qaeda and other extremist groups who have been responsible for horrific atrocities against civilians in the country.
Arming the opposition is something which will put a significant arsenal of weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, in the hands of those the western governments deem as terrorists.
A recent report by Amnesty International condemned the actions of the Syrian opposition “[Rebel fighters] are summarily killing people with a chilling sense of impunity, and the death toll continues to rise as more towns and villages come under the control of armed opposition groups.”
Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program “While the vast majority of war crimes and other gross violations continue to be committed by government forces, our research also points to an escalation in abuses by armed opposition groups. If left unaddressed such practices risk becoming more and more entrenched – it is imperative that all those concerned know they will be held accountable for their actions.”
The fact is that the Syrian opposition are committing horrific acts which amount to war crimes, and yet western governments continue to push forward in supporting them, without addressing the issue.
It seems that the only focus of those governments who support the Syrian opposition is total destabilisation of the area, after which they will find an excuse to ‘step-in’ and ensure their puppets are in power to serve their own interests.
There have been numerous opportunities to bring all sides together and attempt to find a diplomatic solution – yet western governments have made little effort in pursuing this as an option.
Meanwhile, it is the ordinary citizens of Syria who suffer at the hands of two brutal sides in this conflict. It is they who are brutalised, tortured, killed, maimed, and who live in fear with nowhere to go and no help from the international community.
If a diplomatic process was initiated, it may (at least) result in a ceasefire or reduction in military action – which must be the prime directive of all those involved.
The UN estimates that at least 70,000 people have been killed and over two million internally displaced during the two-year uprising, yet the western government in particular have made virtually no effort to stop more deaths, atrocities, and suffering to the Syrian people.