Van Bommel: ‘Lifting arms embargo on Syria is overture to increased violence’

28 May 2013

Van Bommel: ‘Lifting arms embargo on Syria is overture to increased violence’

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel believes that lifting the arms embargo on Syria is from all points of view the wrong choice and fears that in practice it will lead to more violence. ‘At the very time when the United States and Russia have joined forces to organise a peace conference, the EU decides to let the arms embargo expire,’ says Van Bommel. ‘Worse timing is hard to imagine. This peace conference is the first hopeful diplomatic development for some months, but the EU’s decision will greatly undermine the conference’s chances. This decision could represent the overture to the peace conference’s failure.’

Harry van BommelFor some time the UK and France have argued that the supply of weapons to moderates amongst the rebels should be possible, and on Monday night, after long negotiation, they got their wish: under certain conditions supply of weapons would be permitted.

‘The British and the French want to supply the moderate opposition in Syria with weapons, but anyone who knows the situation on the ground knows also that weapons cannot possibly be kept out of the hands of radical groups,’ Van Bommel insists. ‘Anyone who says they can is kidding himself. There is also now no possibility of the EU appealing to other suppliers of arms such as Russia or Qatar, as they will have lost all credibility.’

Van Bommel added that the decision ‘ensures that what’s really needed – a UN arms embargo on Syria – is further away than ever. Moreover, based on the EU criteria for arms exports none should be supplied to Syria. The simple fact that Syria lies in an area of tension means that supplying arms goes against these criteria. I expect the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans to remind other member states of this. Otherwise these criteria will lose all credibility. I hope that I’m looking at this wrongly, but I’m afraid that still more violence will follow the lifting of the arms embargo and that the consequences of this will be incalculable.’

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