Syria

German Foreign Minister Opposes Sending Arms to Rebels in Syria

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Credit: Dirk Vorderstraße/wikimedia

Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to the Middle East today for talks on setting up a Syria peace conference that will bring together representatives from the Assad regime and its opposition.

Last week Kerry said that he was "hopeful" that the Russian-American plan for a peace conference would be implemented. The French government has said that they will not participate in any peace conference that includes Iran, one of the Assad regime's closest allies. France's opposition to Iran's inclusion in any possible conference could derail the conference given that Russia would like Iran to be part of any peace conference.

The U.K. and France are pushing for the European Union's arms embargo on Syria to be lifted, thereby making it easier to arm Assad's opposition. While the British and French might be advocating for more direct intervention in Syria the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who opposed having German troops participate in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and deploying the German military as part of the intervention in Libya, has expressed doubt that a military plan in Syria would establish lasting peace. 

From an interview Westerwelle did with Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: The opposition wants weapons.

Westerwelle: We have to answer two questions: Will fewer people die if more weapons are sent to Syria? And can it be ensured that these weapons do not end up in the hands of extremists, terrorists and jihadists, for whom Damascus is merely a staging post on the road to Jerusalem?

SPIEGEL: Those forces have already been armed.

Westerwelle: Let's assume a modern antiaircraft system falls into the hands of anti-Semitic jihadists or a terrorist group like the Al-Nusra brigades. What would that mean for civil aviation in the region, and for Israel's security? There are also no easy answers to the question of arms shipments.

SPIEGEL: France and Great Britain now have a different response to this question than Germany.

Westerwelle: I respect that, because I can understand the motives. If our friends stick to their position, the European Union arms embargo will expire this month. Then we will have to ensure that the program of sanctions against the regime continues to apply in other ways.

Westerwelle's concerns are well founded. Al Qaeda in Iraq is becoming more involved in the Syrian civil war and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah are also fighting in the conflict, but on the side of the Assad regime. If weapons were sent into the conflict it would be impossible to ensure that they wouldn't end up in the hands of terrorist organizations on either side.

However, it is hard to see how effective the "program of sanctions against the regime" would be if the E.U. embargo on sending arms to Syria were lifted. If the embargo remains, something move that looks increasingly unlikely, it will be interesting to see what European politicians who advocate for intervention begin recommending.

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  1. Let’s assume a modern antiaircraft system falls into the hands of anti-Semitic jihadists or a terrorist group like the Al-Nusra brigades. What would that mean for civil aviation in the region, and for Israel’s security?

    How strange the world has become that the Germans seem to be the ones most concerned for Israel’s safety.

  2. We have to answer two questions: Will fewer people die if more weapons are sent to Syria?

    No.

    And can it be ensured that these weapons do not end up in the hands of extremists, terrorists and jihadists, for whom Damascus is merely a staging post on the road to Jerusalem?

    Also no.

    In fact the likely answer is that both situations will happen and then some.

  3. The messed up part about Syria is that the weakest faction fighting against the regime is the secular one. The strongest rebel forces are Islamists, and much like in Libya they plan on running the show once the regime is gone.

    There are no pro-democracy or secular groups organized enough that we could assist at this point. This wasn’t true about two years ago, but it is now.

  4. You know what else a German Foreign Minister opposed?

    1. Alt-text?

      1. “Don’t mention the war”

        1. You started it.

    2. Sorry, should have written “alternativetextenderpicturen”.

    3. Harry Flashman?

    4. French annexation of Luxembourg?

  5. The U.K. and France are pushing for the European Union’s arms embargo on Syria to be lifted, thereby making it easier to arm Assad’s opposition.

    The only thing we can know for sure about where that is going is who they expect to send the bill to.

  6. Who know who else opposed Syrian arms?

    1. You know who else opposed Syrian Arms?

    2. The Free French?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F…..rces#Syria

  7. Ralph Peters, he of the often engorged war boner, opines that we should probably sit this one out.

    We’re witnessing a titanic event, the crack-up of a long-tottering civilization. Arab societies grew so corrupt and stagnant that violent upheaval became inevitable. That’s what we’re seeing in Syria and Iraq ? two names, one struggle ? and will find elsewhere tomorrow.

    [T]he Assad regime is horrible, but not al Qaeda horrible. Better poison gas than poisoned religion, as far as our own security’s concerned. This is an Arab struggle (with Turkish and Iranian vultures overhead). This time, we need to let them fight it out.

    1. The Iran-Iraq War was a net plus for civilization. I only wish we could get Egypt and Saudi Arabia involved the death dealing.

      1. According to this post on ZH, the conflict boils down to a proxy war between Qatar and Russian gas pipeline interests. Saudis will likely get involved before Assad’s regime falls.

  8. I know the Ron Paul Institute is a little out there, but I have to admit I laughed when I saw their tweet about Bill Kristol’s Empire of Death.

    You know old Bill wants us in Syria, boots and all, ASAP.

  9. “Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to the Middle East today for talks on setting up a Syria peace conference that will bring together representatives from the Assad regime and its opposition.”

    He thinks he’s Jimmy Carter.

    LOL

    1. I guess he wants his Peace Prize. Why not get Dukakis and Mondale to join him so all living failed Dem nominees will have Nobels?

  10. It’s Der Spiegel, not Das Spiegel. The German word for mirror is masculine, not neuter.

    1. That’s a strange mistake since I’ve always seen the paper referred to by it’s full German name.

  11. We have to answer two questions: Will fewer people die if more weapons are sent to Syria? And can it be ensured that these weapons do not end up in the hands of extremists, terrorists and jihadists, for whom Damascus is merely a staging post on the road to Jerusalem?

    Holy hell! A rational foreign minister!

    1. You know what other German foreign minister thought he was rational?

      1. Henry Kissinger?

        1. We have all seen too many body bags and ball sacks.

          Oy.

  12. You know which other German official opposed sending arms to resistance fighters?

  13. At first I read that sign as “Deutschland kann ess besser.”, “Germany can eat better.”

  14. Sounds like smackdown time to me dude.

    http://www.Proxys4u.tk

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