Syria: Political strategy is needed
Following the attacks on Syria by the USA, France and Great Britain, Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts, Presidents of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament comment:
"Single-handed action by the USA, France and Great Britain will not end the civil war in Syria and is dangerous. It could bring down the shaky international legal order. The US president risks causing a wildfire and military escalation among the nuclear powers with his ill-considered statements. The European Union must develop a political strategy. The accounts of those responsible for the use of toxic gases must be frozen and further non-military coercive measures must not be taboo."
"The use of weapons of mass destruction is unacceptable. The international community must finally wake up, end the Syrian tragedy and outlaw the use of chemical weapons. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ inspectors need a comprehensive international mandate to assess and investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria."
- Condemnation in the strongest terms the repeated use of chemical weapons, use prohibited under international law (WHO confirmed for Douma but OPCW investigation still ongoing, April 2017 Sarin use confirmed by OPCW). The repeated use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is totally unacceptable (NGOs report 85 instances of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict, the vast majority being by the Assad regime).
- The latest attack in Douma constitutes a collective failure of the international community to prevent this latest criminal act, and more broadly to stop the Syrian tragedy.
- Russia and Iran who train, equip, assist Assad's army and air force are partners in crime and bear also to a certain degree responsibility for acts of their closest ally.
- Full support to the strongest possible reaction from the international community, making loud and clear that repeated use of chemical weapons/WMD is unacceptable.
- However, a hasty, unilateral recourse to punitive strikes by USA/France and UK is not a solution; limited strikes would not deter repeated use of chemical weapons (see the aftermath of Trump strikes last year), while a stronger military response would have uncontrollable consequences. Moreover, punitive strikes would not have a legal basis and hence risk to undermine the rules-based international order that is more fragile than ever. Ultimately, the only effective means to stop chemical attacks would be to stop the war in Syria.
- Shocked and irritated by recent twitter communication by US President Trump as regards possible missile strikes. Language used, content of message and addressee totally inappropriate, puts not only USA but also Europe in danger (Europe is on the front line if the situation spirals out of control), risk of military escalation between nuclear powers Russia and US and total regional chaos (risk of war with Iran ever closer).
- The EU must wake up! Urge EU heads of states and governments, in particular May and Macron, but also Mogherini to engage actively, to develop ideas and initiatives; to develop a European response to the use of chemical weapons and to exercise restraint and to contain a US President who is out of control but armed with nukes.
Proposals on how to react:
- Short term reaction: Europeans have to show to Assad that the costs for such warfare are rising, but use means that do not add war to the war and that serve our interests (if only that of self-preservation)- Implement most far-reaching coercive measures possible in the financial and economic sector against those responsible for the chemical attack, EU sanctions.
- Europeans could also invest heavy diplomatic, intelligence, scientific and other resources on a possible ICC indictment for using chemical weapons and agents against civilians.
- Short term but also for prevention, early warning and contribute to impunity (collect evidence for ICC): Immediately deploy OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FMM) to Douma and Europeans to make sure that permanently a well-staffed and equipped team of chemical weapons experts of the Organisation for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is on the ground in Syria
- Medium-term: redouble efforts to contribute to UN efforts to find a political solution to the conflict, while keeping accountability an integral part of the agenda.
- Long-term: The only sustainable long-term solution to the use of WMD in the region is to revive the idea of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction. A conference on a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction has been envisioned in the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference but was never convened. A similar architecture, the CSCE/OSCE has been able to save Europe at a difficult moment of the Cold War.