The Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelberger and Germany´s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle have expressed their opposition against lifting the E.U. ban on arming the Syrian opposition.
Inner-European discord about lifting the ban grows as more details about massacres and chemical weapons use by opposition forces emerge. The inner-European discord also reflects discord with regard to energy-security, regional and international politics.
Growing Inner European Discord about Arming Syrian Opposition. The Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelberger, has reiterated his criticism of France and the United Kingdom, for their continuous calls to lift the European Union´s embargo on sending arms to the Syrian opposition.
In a recent interview with the Austrian “Die Presse”, Spindelberger stressed his disappointment over the French and British position with regard to dealing with the situation in Syria. Spindelberger stressed the importance of a joint, neutral European policy in addressing the situation and the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes, contrary to destabilizing countries in crisis by sending weapons to them.
The German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, stressed that Germany and Austria had the same position with regard to addressing the crisis in Syria. Westerwelle rejected a military intervention as a possible solution, and stressed the importance of finding a political solution to the crisis.
Westerwelle told “Die Presse”, that Germany and Austria have repeatedly stressed the necessity of reaching a political and diplomatic solution and added, that a military solution would not lead to a lasting peace.
In May 2013, the European Union lifted the ban on sending weapons to the “Syrian Opposition” under pressure from France and the United Kingdom. While some abstained, 14 EU member states opposed the lifting of the ban on sending weapons to the insurgents. Among the most outspoken opponents against lifting the ban are Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden and Finland.
The inner European discord and opposition against arming the Syrian opposition has increased over the last months, as almost daily new reports about massacres and most serious human rights violations and war crimes, committed by the Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al-Nusrah, Takfiri, and other, often al-Qaeda associated terrorist organizations emerge.
Also the increased use of chemical weapons by insurgents and reports which ties NATO allies to the delivery or transit of chemical weapons have likely increased the inner European discord. During the latest large-scale massacre in Khan al-Assal, at least 123 people, most of them non-combatant civilians, were killed by a terrorist group that receives weapons from abroad.
European Position Discussed by UN Special Representative and National Democratic Bloc. On Sunday a delegation of Syria´s domestic opposition group, the National Democratic Bloc, met with the Head of the UN Special Representative for Syria, Mokhtar Lamani, in Damascus.
The National Democratic Bloc is an umbrella organization for several Syrian political parties, ethnic and religious and special interest organizations and rejects, along with other Syrian opposition parties a foreign intervention in Syria. It also denounces the foreign-backed opposition for waging a war on Syrians rather than taking part in a constructive, ongoing dialog.
During a press briefing, the Secretary General of the Bloc, Salim Kharrat said that the parties had discussed the repercussions of the massacre in Khan al-Assal as well as the European position on the crisis in Syria and the effects of the United States decision to arm terrorist groups in Syria.
Salim Kharrat said, that they also had discussed the fragmented nature of the Syrian opposition and the need to unite all sides on the dialog table where one one would be authorized to speak in the name of the opposition. Kharrat stressed, that the Syrian crisis must be solved by Syrians themselves, without foreign interference.
The inner-European discord about how to approach the situation in Syria is, according to analysts caused by the fact that France and the United Kingdom have shared interests with the United States, in destabilizing Russian – European energy security, while Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Germany would prefer stability and the further integration of the Russian – European market economies and energy sectors.