News / Middle East

Europe Ramps Up Calls to Arm Syrian Rebels

Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in the besieged area of Homs, March 9, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in the besieged area of Homs, March 9, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
Europe's two biggest military powers, France and Britain, are ramping up calls for the European Union to arm Syrian rebels.  French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius added more pressure on Thursday, saying France and Britain would act unilaterally if the rest of the 27-member bloc resisted lifting an arms embargo against Syria.

The embargo comes up for renewal in May, but in an interview with French radio, Fabius said France wants it to take place quickly - possibly by the end of this month.

With more than 70,000 people dead and one-million-plus refugees, the Syrian crisis, Fabius said, was taking a horrendous toll. He said the arms imbalance was unacceptable and repeated Western allegations that Iran and Russia are supplying weapons to the Syrian government. Meanwhile, he said, Syrian rebels don't have adequate means to defend themselves.

Fabius says France and Britain will act unilaterally if they fail to persuade the other Europeans to lift the embargo.

The foreign minister's remarks are only the latest calls for more muscular European action.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested Britain might move unilaterally if the EU fails to lift the embargo. The Reuters news agency reports that anti-aircraft missiles count among the weapons that might be supplied to rebel fighters.  Britain has already persuaded the Europeans to allow non-lethal aid to the rebels, which could include armored vehicles.

But Germany, in particular, has resisted arming the rebels, fearing more weapons might lead to a spreading regional conflict.

The United States recently announced it would offer food and medical supplies, but not weapons to the rebels.

During a visit to Qatar last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration supported Middle East efforts to arm the rebels - so long as the weapons ended up in the hands of moderate members of the armed Syrian opposition.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 14, 2013 11:01 AM
Once again the Western world is looking the other way, much the same as they did during the Srebrenisa massacre in Bosnia; and the Rawanda massacres, which also should not have been allowed. Time for the nations, that can, to step up unilaterally and provide the required defensive weapons, to enable the defenseless Sunni civilian population in Syria, to protect itself against Assad and his chronies. Failure to protect the defenseless Sunni Muslim civilian population, will end up destabilizing Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq; we already see that these nations are starting to get serious problems, because of the massive number of Sunni Muslim refugees, and initial localized combat activities, related to the Syrian civil war, have taken place in Iraq and Lebanon.


by: Peace lover from: peace world
March 14, 2013 7:42 AM
I wanna tell all those nations who have been founded on the principles of democracy, respect for human dignity, peace and justice. Don't step over those ideal values by sending arms to Syrian's rebel forces if you are doing so, will you be also ready to send your children with those arms to fight against the regime. Let the Syrian people to decide their future not you. I would really appreciate if you promote peace instead of violence as there are many ways of dealing with such kind of situation through diplomatic efforts. I am sure by such overt interference in the internal affairs of a country will introduce you as pro war countries not peace loving ones. My message for Syrian people is that neither the west including the USA not the Russia care about you as much as they care about themselves...try not be regretted nation. Thanks, May peace and stability return to Syria soon! Love peace and hate violence

In Response

by: peace lover from: peace world
March 17, 2013 12:25 AM
Dear Nature Guy,

I do agree with you on Iran and Russia sending arms to Syrian tyrant regime but it does not also justify the west and USA to do similar thing which results nothing but escalating the conflict meaning more civilian causalities. I think the best would be for the powerful countries to directly deal with the regime supporters (Iran and Russia) .......I will not call bravery when two powerful man can not settle their issues directly but rather both of them engage in power show a by shedding only the civilian bloods who have nothing to do with both the rivals. i am sure as long as this power show continues, then all week nations and civilians should be ready for unjustified sacrifice....i don't really know what will happen to the world?...somebody could answer me please

In Response

by: Nature Guy from: Florida
March 14, 2013 9:23 AM
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated: "We cannot accept the current disequilibrium with Iran and Russia supplying arms to Assad on the one hand and the opposition unable to defend itself on the other," So, "Peace Lover," you should perhaps concentrate your efforts for peace in the direction of Iran and Russia. You certainly sound like a supporters of the Assad regime.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid