Thursday

11th Aug 2022

EU keen to send in UN monitors as fighting halts in Syria

EU countries are keen for a UN monitoring mission to go to Syria as fast as possible amid reports that fighting stopped at dawn on Thursday (12 April).

French foreign minister Alain Juppe told press at a meeting of G8 countries in Washington late on Wednesday that: "France wants the [UN] Security Council to adopt a resolution as quickly as possible to send a robust monitoring force on the ground ... to verify the reality of commitments undertaken by all parties [in the conflict]."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • A 'robust' force would need its own vehicles and bodyguards, a secure base and communications equipment plus special investigators (Photo: Wikipedia)

He noted that: "We are in agreement on this point with [Russian foreign minister] Sergey Lavrov, which is a very positive element."

His remarks were echoed by UK foreign minister William Hague, who said monitors are needed "to make sure [Syria] can't slide back to renewed conflict."

The ceasefire was brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan as part of a six point plan, which also calls for the release of prisoners; access for aid workers and press; free rein for anti-government protests; and a "Syrian-led" process to address President Bashar Assad's political future.

The UN has already drafted plans for 250 unarmed monitors to go in, drawing on blue helmets currently deployed in UN missions in Jerusalem and on the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria borders.

A "robust" force in Juppe's terms would require monitors to have their own armoured vehicles and bodyguards so that they could move around freely, an independent base with secure communications equipment and access to drone and satellite intelligence.

For its part, Russia has warned the biggest threat to peace comes from rebels.

"The Syrian government has declared it will cease fire as of 6am on 12 April. Now it's up to the armed opposition," its deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov tweeted on Wednesday. The rebels themselves have predicted people will march en masse on Assad's palace the moment they see tanks pull back.

The EU has in recent months castigated Russia for blocking a UN Security Council resolution calling on Assad to halt violence.

But behind the scenes, EU security specialists have relied on Russian intelligence to assess what is going on inside the country. "The Russians are the only ones who have the full picture. They tell us that the rebel forces have killed as many as 3,000 government supporters in recent months," one EU contact told EUobserver in March, citing EU fears of a bloody civil war if Assad falls.

EU and US leaders have also declared that Assad is no longer the legitimate leader of Syria and should step down immediately.

But one analyst noted that despite its rhetoric, the West is happy for him to stay in power so long as bloodshed ends because it fears the Sunni Muslim opposition is a threat to Israeli and Lebanese security and to the safety of Christians in Syria.

"They have no alternative to Assad. The fact that the last round of [EU] sanctions boiled down to stopping his wife from shopping in Paris shows that they are not serious about bringing him down," Robert Baer, a former CIA officer in Lebanon and Syria, told this website.

An EU diplomat noted that Assad has gone too far to ever mend relations with the West. "He has systematically killed over 10,000 people ... This is not like Andijan. Nobody in the EU will ever shake his hand again," he said.

Uzbek leader Islam Karimov's soldiers killed up to 5,000 people in the town of Andijan in 2005. But a few years later the EU dropped sanctions and welcomed him back in Brussels due to Uzbekistan's strategic importance.

Assad's father, Hafez Assad, massacred between 10,000 and 40,000 people in the town of Hama in 1982. But in the 1990s he was back on the red carpet in Paris shaking hands with the then French leader Jacques Chirac.

Russia: EU and US want war with Syria

Russia has accused Nato countries of trying to start a war with Syria and foment unrest in Iran - claims backed up by some Western security analysts.

Former CIA officer questions EU motives in Syria

EU and US intervention in Syria is designed to harm Iran and to protect Israel and Lebanese Christians, not Syrian people, according to Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer with experience of the region.

Opinion

Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy

The Belgian parliament's recent decision to ratify its prisoner-exchange treaty with Iran is a grave mistake, and one which exemplifies the many downfalls of dealing with Iran's human-rights abuses on a case-by-case basis.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  2. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive
  3. Another migrant tragedy claims 50 lives in Greek waters
  4. Russia hits area near town with 120 rockets, says Ukraine
  5. UN expects more ships to get Ukrainian grain out
  6. Greece to end bailout-era oversight
  7. Denmark to train Ukrainian soldiers in urban warfare
  8. Russian helicopter flies into Estonia's airspace

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  2. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  3. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia
  4. EU Commission shrugs off Polish threats on rule-of-law
  5. EU urged to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians
  6. Russia puts EU in nuclear-energy paradox
  7. Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought
  8. West needs to counter Russia in Africa, but how?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us