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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid