22nd Oct 2016

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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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."

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity