Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

France and Germany disagree on arming Syria rebels

France has said the EU should reconsider its ban on giving arms to Syrian rebels, despite German opposition to the move.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told press after meeting his colleagues in Brussels on Monday (11 March) that there is an "imbalance" in the conflict because the Syrian regime is "being supported by heavy weapons coming from Iran and Russia, but the [rebel] National Coalition does not have the same weapons at its disposal."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He added: "This question [on lifting the EU arms embargo] … will have to be asked again very quickly because we cannot tolerate this imbalance, which is resulting in the massacre of the entire population."

The EU just two weeks ago extended the arms ban for another three months, but allowed the provision of "non-lethal equipment and technical assistance for the protection of civilians."

Britain's William Hague on Monday noted that he is "making full use of the amendment" by giving rebels "armoured, four-wheel-drive vehicles and body armour" as well as "training, advice and assistance."

He said that France, Germany and Italy are all "thinking along the same lines" on how to help the opposition.

But Germany the same day struck a different note.

Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said EU countries should send in "goods for infrastructure, medical assistance, electricity, water."

But he added: "I don't think the bloodshed in Syria will decrease should we engage in an arms race."

For his part, the man tasked by the UN and the Arab League to try to mediate in the conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, told the meeting of EU foreign policy chiefs that Europe should urge Russia to play a more constructive role.

He warned that unless there is "a peaceful, consensual, political solution, [then] the situation will become similar to or even worse than, Somalia."

But he gave no hope of any breakthrough in rebel-regime talks.

"He did not give me an iota of greater optimism," Poland's Radek Sikorski said after listening to the envoy.

"I'm very, very pessimistic. I'm afraid there will be a very long civil war," Belgium's Didier Reynders noted.

The EU ministers the same day further stigmatised the Syrian regime's principal ally, Iran.

They blacklisted seven Iranian jurists and prison chiefs as well as a new Cyber Police Unit in the Revolutionary Guards.

They accused one of the designated men, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, Iran's chief Internet censor, of having "actively contributed to the death in detention of the blogger Sattar Beheshti in November 2012."

They accused the others of torture and hangings of political prisoners.

They also blacklisted the chief of Iran's English-language propaganda channel, Press TV, Mohammad Sarafaz, and his top editor, Hamid Reza Emadi, for broadcasting prisoners' "forced confessions."

Feature

Back from hell, back from Syria

The West should give the Free Syrian Army food and anti-aircraft defences, one EU parliament official says after visiting the war torn country.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference