EU drop arms embargo on Syria as Russia delivers missiles
Brussels: The future of Syria still hangs in the balance as the EU decided not to renew the current arms embargo after long and tense negotiations led by the UK in Brussels earier this week. However Russia announced yesterday it was going ahead with a delivery of sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian government.
The EU arms embargo is due to expire on Saturday and the UK has been pushing to arm moderate Syrian opposition groups in a bid to bring the bloody conflict to a close.
The issue has divided Europe’s foreign ministers and after 12 hours of anxious talks the UK foreign secretary, William Hague, said.
\”EU nations agreed to bring the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition to an end. This was the outcome that the United Kingdom wanted. It was a difficult decision for some countries but it was necessary and right to reinforce international efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria\”.
A joint text by the EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, was read out on Monday night concerning the lifting of the embargo; however member states had agreed not to start arming rebels at this stage.
Sajjad Karim, a British MEP who made efforts to unite Syrian opposition groups in December 2011 with his high level conference in the European Parliament, said:
\”This is a decisive step in the right direction and a pivotal moment for Syria which has been embroiled in a conflict that has taken over 80,000 lives, forced many Syrians to leave their country and has heightened tension in the region.
\”President Al-Assad’s position is becoming untenable and I am in support of my foreign secretary’s stance on the conflict.\”
The situation in Syria is escalating with Israel concerned about the delivery of Russian arms which they see as a threat to their sovereignty.
Even with the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian president, many of the EU’s foreign ministers believe that sending arms to Syria would only exacerbate the situation and the weapons could fall into the hands of Islamist extremist groups.
Fighting in the country looks set to continue as the world seems divided on how to address the issue. The US and Russia are due to organise Syrian peace talks in Geneva however no date has been set.