NEW YORK, June 1, 2013 – The European Union ban on providing arms to the Syrian rebels expired yesterday. Lifting the arms embargo is not only a failure of the institution to present a unified military policy regarding the civil war in Syria, but could also prove to be an advantage to US President Barack Obama and a pressure point to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down from office.
The termination of the EU arms embargo was not a deliberate political decision. Instead, it was a byproduct of a lack of consensus among foreign ministers to extend the ban. European foreign ministers on Monday could not agree on the policy after a 13-hour debate to renew the weapons embargo, therefore it expired yesterday. This lapses permits individual member states to decide individually whether to arm rebels.
The member states were able to agree to continue financial and economic sanctions against the Assad regime, but those measures are unlikely to impact the civil war. If all 27 member states decide to arm the rebels, it would demonstrate a European foreign policy of one voice, a strategic vision and massive influence.
Assad would feel significant political and economic pressure to transition from power. Alternatively, it only takes a few European countries to provided significant military support to shift the balance of power between opposition groups and Assad who has the military backing of Iran, Hezbollah and Russia.
Could the end of the EU weapons ban play a factor in Obama’s decision to supply weapons to opposition groups?
Probably not, but if some EU members promised enough arms to influence Assad, it would be a relief to President Obama who has been reluctant to direct any type of military intervention. If
Like the EU, there is disagreement within the
Obama’s European counterparts of
The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is the only organization that has received international recognition as a legitimate representative of the anti-Assad movement. It is made up of 114 moderate and liberal groups across
France and Britain, without the US, could provide military assistance to The National Coalition, whose power is weakening from fighting the Syrian government.
The opposition group has reported heavy losses in the city of
The National Coalition’s most prominent member, The Revolutionary Movement in
Perhaps some EU members and the Obama administration can host a strategy meeting with The National Coalition before the UN peace talks in June. This show of solidarity could give Assad a chance to make concessions before the possibility of arming rebels.
It would also show that Western powers are seriously planning to arm anti-Assad forces.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.