The Middle East Channel

EU fails to extend arms ban on Syria

European Union governments failed to negotiate a renewal of an arms embargo on Syria, raising the possibility of new weapons supplies to Syrian opposition fighters. Britain and France have maintained that the EU must show a stronger commitment to the Syrian opposition by allowing arms supplies, but both countries said they will not immediately deliver weapons to the opposition. Several EU countries are strongly opposed to arming the opposition, fearing weapons will end up in the hands of jihadists and that it will prompt Russia to send more weapons to the regime. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the expiration of the ban "gives us the flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate." EU member states did agree to extend economic sanctions on the regime as well as travel bans on President Bashar al-Assad and senior Syrian officials. Russia said it will go ahead with its anti-aircraft missile deliveries to the Syrian regime saying the "defensive weapons" will "stabilize" Syria, helping to stave off foreign intervention. Russia criticized the EU decision not to extend its arms embargo on Syria. Concerns over the spread of the Syrian conflict increased with escalating violence in neighboring Lebanon. Over the weekend, two rockets hit the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, and a blast was reported in Israel. On Monday, three mortar shells fired from Syria killed one woman and injured two people near the eastern Lebanese town of Hermel, a stronghold of Hezbollah. On Tuesday, gunmen killed three Lebanese soldiers at an army checkpoint near the town of Arsal in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley. In the northern city of Tripoli, at lease 25 people were killed last week in clashes sparked by tensions over the battle in the Syrian town of Qusayr.


Arguments and Analysis

Why Turkey is Thriving (Jeffrey D. Sachs, Project Syndicate)

"A recent visit to Turkey reminded me of its enormous economic successes during the last decade. The economy has grown rapidly, inequality is declining, and innovation is on the rise.

Turkey's achievements are all the more remarkable when one considers its neighborhood. Its neighbors to the west, Cyprus and Greece, are at the epicenter of the eurozone crisis. To the southeast is war-torn Syria, which has already disgorged almost 400,000 refugees into Turkey. To the east lie Iraq and Iran. And to the northeast lie Armenia and Georgia. If there is a more complicated neighborhood in the world, it would be difficult to find it.

Yet Turkey has made remarkable strides in the midst of regional upheavals. After a sharp downturn in 1999-2001, the economy grew by 5% per year on average from 2002 to 2012. It has remained at peace, despite regional wars. Its banks avoided the boom-bust cycle of the past decade, having learned from the banking collapse in 2000-2001. Inequality has been falling. And the government has won three consecutive general elections, each time with a greater share of the popular vote.

There is nothing flashy about Turkey's rise, which has been based on fundamentals, rather than bubbles or resource discoveries. Indeed, Turkey lacks its neighbors' oil and gas resources, but it compensates for this with the competitiveness of its industry and services. Tourism alone attracted more than 36 million visitors in 2012, making Turkey one of the world's top destinations."

In Syria, Go Big or Stay Home (Ray Takeyh, The New York Times)

"FROM liberal internationalists to hawkish conservatives, a chorus of influential voices in Washington is suggesting that American intervention in Syria would also do serious damage to Bashar al-Assad's close ally, Iran.

Military action in Syria would demonstrate, so the argument goes, that America is serious about enforcing its red lines. Impressed and crestfallen, Iran's recalcitrant mullahs would scale back their nuclear zeal and conform to international nonproliferation agreements.

However, given the fact that any intervention by the Obama administration is likely to be tentative and halting, rather than an overwhelming show of military force, it is not likely to end Syria's civil war or intimidate Iran's rulers.

The sort of intervention needed to bring about a decisive rebel victory would require more than no-fly zones and arms. It would mean disabling Mr. Assad's air power and putting boots on the ground. America would have to take the lead in organizing a regional military force blessed by the Arab League and supported by its own intelligence assets and Special Forces. After that would come the task of reconstituting Syria and mediating its sectarian conflicts. As the war in Iraq painfully demonstrated, refashioning national institutions from the debris of a civil war can be more taxing than the original military intervention."

--By Jennifer T. Parker and Mary Casey



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