8 Nov 2012

Call to lift Syria arms embargo to aid rebels

Britain is to review the EU arms embargo on Syria as part of a wholesale change in strategy in the wake of Barack Obama's re-election that could lead to the eventual arming of the rebel forces fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. As David Cameron said he would press Obama to make Syria a priority, No 10 officials indicated that the prime minister now wants to put every possible measure to remove Assad "back on the table".


Cameron's visit to the Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan on Wednesday, in which he heard "appalling stories" of suffering, persuaded him that Britain and its allies need to review their strategy, a source said. Britain's national security council will discuss the crisis in special session next week. It will include a review of the EU ban on providing weapons to all sides in Syria. Officials say that the embargo includes the principle of "proportionality" which suggests the restriction could be relaxed in the event of a humanitarian disaster.

Evidence of a British rethink on the crisis came on a day when rebels fired mortars at a presidential palace in Damascus and as different elements of the divided Syrian opposition met in the Qatari capital Doha to try to close ranks and form a transitional government for the post-Assad era.

The Guardian - Why arming Syrian rebels is a bad idea (Politico)