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Hands off Syria!

SYRIA: Many MEPs opposed to intervention without UN
Agence Europe
28/08/2013

Since 26 August, several MEPs have warned against military intervention – particularly without the agreement of the United Nations. “No to hasty and unilateral intervention in Syria. The international community must act together on the basis of the results of the UN report”, said President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz on Twitter. Wanting evidence of the chemical weapons attack to be published and reiterating that the use of such weapons is “unacceptable”, the leader of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany), stated that action without the agreement of the UN would lack legal clarity. He added: “Strikes or not, we need a political solution”.

“Before even beginning, intervention in Syria is already no longer a quandary but a huge mess. Because from the point of view of international legality, any intervention that did not go through the UN is fragile”, said Véronique de Keyser (S&D, Belgium). “Intervening in this country without massive support from the people is dangerous. Intervening and igniting the region, in a context of virtual cold war, with Russia engaged in it, is madness”, she added, recalling that “war is not remedied by war”.

In Rachida Dati's opinion (EPP, France), military intervention is not a solution. “We must continue to keep up pressure on the Damascus regime, without ignoring Russia and China. The only way out is a political solution, bringing to the same table the powers that be and the Syrian opposition that must be united, not to say unified, and responsible”, she said. She recalled that “history (…) shows that military intervention to get rid of a dictatorship is not necessarily synonymous with freedom for the people – quite the opposite”.

Military action would be “unlawful and illegal and so criminal” according to Willy Meyer (GUE, Spain), who stated that “the use of force outside the United Nations charter can only lead to more violence and instability” and would have “a devastating effect” on the Middle East. Meyer criticised the “passiveness and complicity of the European Union in the face of this likely illegal and criminal action”.

Call for a no-fly zone. Leader of the ALDE Group at the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium), called on High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to call another emergency meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council. According to European sources, a meeting of this type is not currently planned. “Together, we must discuss the way to arm the Free Syrian Army, how to set up a no-fly zone and how to confront the growing number of Jihadists. A common and effective strategy like this will only be possible if the EU speaks with a single voice”, Verhofstadt said in a press release (our translation throughout).

A no-fly zone was also mentioned by Charles Tannock (ECR, UK). In Tannock's view, “the best way forward to neutralise the means of delivery of weapons of mass destruction would be a no-fly zone. This would clear the skies of warplanes and missiles, and at least reduce the scale of the slaughter. We would also show Assad – and most of his supporters – that he is far from being in absolute control”.