News / Europe

European Nations Divided on Call for Action in Syria

France's President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during the annual Conference of Ambassadors in Paris, Aug. 27, 2013.
France's President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during the annual Conference of Ambassadors in Paris, Aug. 27, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
France is ready to “punish” those who carried out an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, the French president said Tuesday. But European nations are divided in their response to an escalating crisis in Syria.

Speaking at a conference with French ambassadors on Tuesday, Francois Hollande said France is ready to punish those who took the heinous decision to gas innocents last week.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Aug. 27, 2013.Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Aug. 27, 2013.
x
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Aug. 27, 2013.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Aug. 27, 2013.
His comments came as Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron recalled parliament to debate Britain’s response. MPs will meet Thursday and are set to take a vote.

Cameron told reporters Tuesday that while no decision had yet been made about Britain's possible involvement in military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, any such military action should be specific and not lead to a wider Middle Eastern war.

"It's about chemical weapons," Cameron said. "Their use is wrong and the world should not stand idly by."

Since the beginning of the year, France and Britain have both been at the forefront of bids to lift a European arms embargo on Syrian rebels.
 
Former European Union diplomat Marc Pierini says, the two nations, as in recent overseas campaigns, would spearhead any European military action in Syria.

“If you take a very different case, which is the Mali operation in January, you can see that only a very few countries can bring significant contributions," he said. "So we are basically talking in Europe about Britain and France.”

But many British politicians have voiced skepticism over Britain taking military action. And elsewhere in Europe, politicians are more hesitant to wage a military campaign in Syria.

On Tuesday, Italy’s foreign minister Emma Bonino said italy would only support a military strike against Syria if it was authorized by the United Nations Security Council.

Germany, which has Europe’s largest economy, has said there should be “consequences” if the alleged chemical attack is proven. But Pierini says it is unlikely to get involved in any military campaign, especially in the run-up to a general election next month.

“Germany rarely intervenes outside its borders. ISAF in Afghanistan was the exception, but if you look at Libya or Mali, they did not intervene,” he said.

Last week, an alleged chemical weapons attack took place in a suburb of Damascus. According to the aid group Doctors Without Borders. more than 350 people were killed.
 
The Syrian authorities have denied responsibility for the attack, but the U.S., Britain, and France say they have little doubt that Syrian government forces carried it out.

But the three countries are unlikely to get support for military intervention at the U.N. Security Council, where Syria’s allies have repeatedly blocked moves to sanction the Syrian government.  

Paul Schulte is a weapons expert at King’s College London. He says there are historic precedents for international action without Security Council backing, including NATO’s 1999 intervention in Kosovo, which was made on humanitarian grounds.

He says having the support of NATO gave that intervention legitimacy.

“You have the moral legitimacy of an entire alliance, which was an accepted leading regional security organization for Europe, saying we are going to do this. That would be politically desirable - if we could reach a similar dissemination in the case of NATO. I’m not sure we can,” he said.

He says NATO’s response in Syria is unlikely to be as united. Some European countries, he says, feels the Syrian conflict is not their responsibility and will not want to take action without unanimous Security Council’s support. 

“It’s going to be messy, and the term which is coming up is the 'coalition of the few', which would presumably be the U.S., the UK, France, maybe Turkey and maybe other allies who are not in NATO but are sympathetic, like Jordan, Saudi, and the Gulf States,” said Schulte.

Syria’s main ally, Russia, said Monday that military intervention in Syria without the approval of the United Nations would be a “grave violation of international law.”

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid