Friday

28th Apr 2017

US defends EU allies on arms-to-Syria

US diplomats have defended Britain and France over their dismantling of the EU arms embargo on Syria.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday (28 May) told press on President Barack Obama's jet: "We welcome the EU action."

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.

  • Obama's jet: Carney said British and French arms will help peace talks, but Russian weapons will harm them (Photo: White House)

He said Russia's decision to deliver S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian regime is a bad move because it "does not bring us closer to the political transition that Syria deserves," however.

State department spokesman Patrick Ventrell went into more detail at a briefing in Washington.

He said the EU decision will "advance" the prospect of peace by giving "the flexibility to specific EU member states to assist the opposition in a way that each sees fit."

He added: "We want [Syrian leader] Assad to have a changed calculation so that he realises that he's got to negotiate."

Ventrell also complained about Russia.

He said: "We condemn all support of arms to the regime. We've seen how the regime uses those arms. When we’re talking about the opposition, that’s a different group, and clearly they are people who are defending themselves in the face of an enormous onslaught."

The US itself has not decided if it will ship weapons to rebels.

But EU foreign ministers on Monday let each member state go its own way on arms deliveries after they failed to reach common ground in 14-hour-long talks.

The deal included a gentleman's agreement not to start arms shipments until 1 August in order not to disrupt peace talks, set to take place in Geneva in June.

But Britain and France on Tuesday said they are not bound by the August date.

British foreign minister William Hague told BBC radio: "I know there has been some discussion of some sort of August deadline. That is not the case."

French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot told media in Paris: "Legally speaking, the [arms] embargo expires on 31 May."

He noted it would have been better if the EU had stayed united, but said national positions in Monday's talks were "very far apart," in reference to Austrian and Czech objections.

He added that France has already established logistical routes and control mechanisms for equipment deliveries to the secularist rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, by supplying it with medical aid and communications kit in recent months.

For its part, Russia said the S-300s are designed to deter Western intervention, such as the creation of a Libya-type no-fly zone.

Its deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, accused the EU of "double standards."

He told Russian press: "The European Union ... is pouring more fuel on the fire of this conflict and damaging the prospects for convening a conference for [a] political settlement."

The Russian surface-to-air missiles cannot be used to hit rebel ground positions.

But they could shoot down Israeli planes if they get into the hands of Islamic extremists or the Assad-allied Hezbollah militia in neighbouring Lebanon.

Israel's defence minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday: "The deliveries have not taken place, I can attest to this ... but if by some misfortune they arrive in Syria, we will know what to do.”

His remark comes after Israeli jets earlier this month launched strikes in Syria to stop Assad giving Russian-made arms to Hezbollah.

EU arms to Syria: what, how and if

Britain and France are since Saturday free to ship arms to Syrian rebels. But many analysts think the idea is "a bluff."

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party