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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid