Tuesday

16th Aug 2022

EU ambassadors' wives in YouTube diplomacy on Syria

Wives of the British and German ambassadors to the UN have launched a graphic and personal appeal to Syria's first lady to stop the killing of children.

Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant published a video on YouTube on Monday (16 April) which shows pictures of dead Syrian children alongside images of the 36-year-old and British-born Asma Assad in glamourous make-up and clothes.

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

  • Asma Assad was called a 'rose in the desert' by Vogue magazine last year (Photo: YouTube.com)

The voiceover accompanying the clip says: "Asma, when you kiss your own children goodnight another mother will find the place next to her empty."

The video and accompanying online petition got around 25,000 clicks and 3,700 signatures by Wednesday morning.

It comes after EU foreign ministers last month put Asma center stage by imposing sanctions on the president's wife. Some commentators, such as Robert Fisk, the veteran Middle East correspondent for British daily The Independent, believe she has used what influence she has to try to mitigate violence.

But other experts, such as Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who now writes for Time magazine, say the Western spotlight on Asma is designed to distract attention from its unwillingness to take real action.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton told MEPs in Brussels on Tuesday that the bloc is ready to impose more sanctions and to provide helicopters and communications equipment for a UN monitoring mission. French foreign minister Alain Juppe told press in Paris that EU sanctions have already halved Syria's currency reserves to an estimated $8 billion.

There is still no talk of freezing Syrian wire transfers in the so-called Swift system operated out of Brussels, as with Iran, however. The EU and US are also ruling out arming rebels or imposing a no-fly zone, as in Libya.

There are six UN monitors in Damascus so far, amid reports that the ceasefire is being widely flouted. Another 30 are to arrive shortly if Syria agrees, and 220 more to follow to cover a country bigger than half the size of France.

Russia - Syria's main ally and arms supplier - has formally backed the UN initiative.

But its intelligence services - which have a monopoly on outside information on what is happening in the country - are telling Western security services that the opposition is also guilty of mass-scale atrocities.

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday stirred controversy by saying that "outside powers" - alluding to Syria's regional enemies Qatar and Saudi Arabia - want the UN mission to "fail" and "are doing a lot to see to it that this ... comes true."

Lavrov's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, also highlighted that the original chief of the UN monitoring team - Norwegian general Robert Mood - has quit and gone back home without giving any public explanation. He is "sort of fleeing his position in the middle of action" the Russian diplomat said.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. Germany rejects visa ban for Russian tourists
  2. Iran responds to EU's 'final text' on nuclear deal
  3. Model minority myths
  4. EU must make public who really owns its fishing fleets
  5. Germany needs to cut gas use by 20% to stave off winter crisis
  6. Europe's wildfire destruction set to hit new record
  7. How Putin and Erdoğan are making the West irrelevant
  8. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us