Saturday

21st Sep 2019

UK and US ready to strike Syria without UN say-so

  • UN building in New York: Russia has blocked three previous UN resolutions on Syria (Photo: un.or)

Russia and China on Wednesday (28 August) in New York said No to a military strike on Syria, but the US and the UK are saying they do not need UN permission.

The meeting of the five veto powers of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, the UK and the US - ended with China and Russia refusing to accept a UK draft UN resolution.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The British text, in the words of a Downing Street spokesman, refers to "condemning the attack by the Assad regime, and authorising all necessary measures under chapter 7 of the UN charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons," referring to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and a clause in the UN constitution which allows the use of force.

"To discuss some kind of [UN] security council resolution before the UN inspectors working in Syria have presented their report would be at the least premature," Russian deputy PM Vladimir Titov told the Interfax news agency after the UN meeting.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said in a statement on Thursday morning: "A political solution is the only way forward on the Syrian issue."

Russia's words were echoed by UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon, who appealed for the inspectors to be "given more time."

The UN's special envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, also noted: "International law says that military action must be taken after a decision by the security council."

But for his part, British foreign minister William Hague told British media ahead of the UN event that the UK is ready to take action with or without a UN blessing.

"We are clear that … if there isn't agreement at the United Nations, then we still have a responsibility. We and other nations still have a responsibility," he noted.

US President Barack Obama said on national TV he has "not yet decided" whether or not to launch strikes.

But he added he has "all the evidence" he needs that al-Assad killed hundreds of people in a chemical strike on the outskirts of Damascus last week and that he intends to send a "pretty strong signal" for him "not to do it again."

A state department spokeswoman Marie Harf spelled out the US position following the latest UN deadlock.

"We cannot be held up in responding by Russia’s intransigence, continued intransigence, at the United Nations," she said.

"We firmly believe that we worked through the security council process this morning. Clearly, Russia remains intransigent on it, and we feel it is imperative for us in the international community to respond," she added.

She said Syria has destroyed too much evidence by shelling the area in which the the UN weapons inspectors are currently at work.

She declined to say what non-UN legal basis exists for military intervention.

She also noted that, while the US plans to publish parts of declassified intelligence report on the chemical attack, "the intelligence information we are able to provide publicly will be limited in scope" for security reasons.

Inside the EU, Britain has taken the lead in pushing for action.

It has recalled parliament from its summer recess for a discussion on Thursday.

The government's draft parliament resolution says "that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community and that this may, if necessary, require military action," and "notes the failure of the United Nations Security Council over the last two years to take united action."

France has also signaled willingness to take part in strikes despite a split in public opinion, with 40 percent of people against the move in a fresh Atlantico poll.

Germany has indicated its military will not get involved, but has given Britain and France its political support.

Italy on Wednesday broke ranks, however.

Its foreign minister, Emma Bonino, told parliament that EU countries should not go ahead without UN approval.

She added: "There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. The only solution is a politically negotiated solution … The option of a limited intervention risks becoming unlimited," she added.

UN ignores EU calls for Syria inspections

The UN Security Council on Wednesday failed to say inspectors should get access to investigate claims of a mass-scale chemical attack in Syria.

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."

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us