News / Middle East

France Raises Issue of Arming Syrian Rebels

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius gives a news conference at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, October 23, 2012.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius gives a news conference at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, October 23, 2012.
VOA News
France says it will bring up excluding defensive weapons from the current arms embargo on Syria in order to help rebels fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Coordinated plan

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in an interview Thursday his country would work toward a coordinated plan for Syria with its European allies.

"For the moment, there is an embargo, so there are no arms being from the European side," he said. "The issue can be raised, it will no doubt be raised for defensive arms. And this is something that we can only do in coordination with the Europeans.''

Profiles of three leaders of newly-founded Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary Forces and Syrian Opposition:

Ahmad Maath Khatib

Khatib is the president of the coalition. He is a 52-year-old political activist and a former cleric at the Great Mosque of Damascus, Islam's fourth holiest site. Khatib is regarded as a religious moderate and a political independent, even after spending four years working for the government-owned oil company. Khatib has been jailed four times for taking part in demonstrations against President Bashar al-Asad. He fled for Cairo with his family in April.

Riad Seif

Syrian opposition members elected Seif as Khatib's deputy. He is 65-years-old and ran an Adidas sportswear store in Syria before Syrian authorities imprisoned him and forced him into bankruptcy for his pro-opposition activities. When Mr. Assad became president in 2000, Seif founded the Damascus Declaration, a movement calling for more liberalized political institutions. He also founded a political party to challenge the ruling Ba'ath Party. Seif fled to Amman last year.

Suhair Atassi

A human rights activist, Atassi is one of the few women among the opposition leadership. She runs the Jamal Atassi Forum, a Facebook group calling for political reforms and the restoration of the civil and constitutional rights suspended since 1963. Atassi has been frequently harassed and threatened by Syrian security forces who demand she shut down her forum.
France on Tuesday became the first Western power to recognize the newly formed coalition of Syrian opposition groups. French President Francois Hollande will meet leaders of the Syrian opposition coalition in Paris on Saturday.

The United States has declined to fully recognize the opposition coalition, saying the group must first prove its worth after its predecessor was dogged by feuding and accusations of Islamist domination.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the formation of the coalition, which supersedes the widely-discredited Syrian National Council, was an important step, but did not offer it full recognition or arms.

Assad reaction

Syria denounced the organization, which it said had closed the door to a negotiated solution with President Bashar al-Assad.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has also recognized the rebel group.

The fifth meeting of the Friends of the Syria will be held on November 30 in Tokyo. Japan will chair the meeting.

Gunfire from Syria struck near an Israeli military outpost in the Golan Heights early Thursday. The Israeli military said no one was injured by the incident.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

Timeline of Syria Unrest

 


Loading...

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
November 15, 2012 7:22 PM
It looks like its ALL IN by France. The incalculable mistake France is making should be avoided by the USA at ALL COSTS. We tried this in Afghanistan and FAILED in the long run, leaving the country in ruins and chaos.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 29, 2012 2:25 PM
Libya is a disaster in progress, as it was in Afghanistan, similar in that, there were various armed groups vying for control fighting each other. Eventually becoming a haven for terrorists and their Islamic radical agendas to flourish.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 15, 2012 10:28 PM
But it worked in Libya, no US servicemen killed, a direct hit on Ghadaffi, the same way Assad will eventually end his career. Hit em hard and fast.

by: john from: Accra
November 15, 2012 11:16 AM
This is no news. France, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are already arming these terrorists.

by: Norman from: US
November 15, 2012 10:27 AM
France need to understand it lost colonizing Syria in the 20th century after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and it should stop recolonizing it under a different mask now. The efforts to replace a secular government with extremest has not paid off in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Why create more misery in the world? Have you forgotten the French Revolution? It was carried out against precisely the same type of government that will replace the current Syrian regime.

by: Lazerbenabba from: London, England
November 15, 2012 10:18 AM
I wonder how many recall that it was France that gave sanctuary to Khameni and then inflicted this murdering fanatic on an unsuspecting world. What do you think the consequences will be with a few thousand armed to the teeth fanatics. Yes, there is an element of genuine freedom fighters hoping to topple Assad and his self serving regime but as has occurred in the other so called Arab spring nations they have been usurped by the Islamic jhihadists. Whenever the Western democracies for all the right reasons help the Arabs the thanks has been a kick in the proverbials. I suggest we let them continue their own self determination as bloody and tragic that it always is.

by: Victor from: Geneva
November 15, 2012 9:49 AM
France is trying to arm Israel's foe; not a good move for the peace in the region.

by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
November 15, 2012 8:18 AM
This issue -of arming the Syrian rebels- is certainly similar to the "Camel Putting her Head Under the Tent" in the Aesop fable. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a former French prime minister, is a skilled politician who is testing the waters carefully before France starts the flow of arms to the Syrian rebels. France, the former colonial power of Lebanon, still has interests in the region, and it wants to maintain a high profile without antagonizing other competing powers. Hence the feeler given out by Mr. Fabius in hope of a consensus agreement which would take into account the concerns of other global powers - as well as of regional influential states like Turkey and Egypt.

This is obviously an attempt by France to put a different spin in the Syrian civil war that up to now has been a proxy war between Assad and Iran on one side, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar as full supporters of the Syrian rebels on the other side. There is no doubt that the heavy involvement of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar has turned the Syrian Arab Spring into a war between Sunnin Muslims and Shiites. France, therefore, has to tread carefully because democracy is not the only objective in Syria; there is a religious war among two Muslim sects there too, supported by Muslim states abhorent themselves to the idea of democracy. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs