Your Montana Public Radio
Fri August 30, 2013
Where U.S. Allies Stand On A Strike Against Syria
Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 2:15 pm
International outrage was palpable last week following reports that Syria used chemical weapons near the capital, Damascus. But now, as President Obama contemplates a strike against Syria, there's only limited support for military action.
Here's a look at countries that have criticized Syria and where they stand on intervention:
British Prime Minister David Cameron's government was among those that urged the strongest actions against Syria. But on Thursday, Cameron suffered a setback when Parliament rejected a military role for the U.K.
"It is clear to me the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action," Cameron said after the vote. "I get that and the government will act accordingly."
France called for the use of "force" last week and is sticking to its position. President Francois Hollande told Le Monde in an interview published Friday that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime "cannot remain unpunished."
Hollande called for the formation of a broad international coalition.
"There are few countries that have the capacity to impose a sanction by appropriate means," Hollande said. "France is one. She is ready."
NATO member Turkey is a strong supporter of a military intervention in Syria.
The exodus of Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country has stretched resources in southern Turkey. There have also been attacks inside Turkey which the country's prime minister has blamed on Turks connected to the Assad regime, as well as border incidents between the two countries.
In theory, Turkey could invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter, which would summon all of the alliance's members to its defense. Last year, Turkey threatened to do just that, but it hasn't recently raised the possibility.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Friday that his country's armed forces were on alert.
"The Turkish armed forces have the mandate to take every measure against any security threat from Syria or elsewhere ... and retaliate within the rules of engagement," he said.
He reiterated Friday that his country had no doubts that Assad's troops had used chemical weapons last week.
After the report of a chemical attack, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "If such an act should be confirmed, then the world community must act. At that time, Germany will belong to those who call for the appropriate consequences."
On Friday, Westerwelle said Germany supported intervention but would not take part. He told Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung "such participation has neither been sought nor is it being considered by us."
U.N. weapons inspectors are still in Syria investigating whether chemical weapons were used last week. However, they don't have a mandate to assign responsibility for such an attack. They plan to leave Syria on Saturday, a day ahead of schedule.
They are expected to deliver a report on their findings next week, but, as the Guardian reports, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ordered them to report to him immediately on departure. The newspaper says that could mean there's an interim report on the suspected chemical attack.
U.N. approval for a strike on Syria is unlikely because of Chinese and Russian opposition. Both countries are permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council.
The alliance condemned Assad's alleged actions but can only act through consensus among its 28 members — something that does not exist at present.
"Any use of such weapons is unacceptable and cannot go unanswered," NATO said in a statement this week. "Those responsible must be held accountable."
NATO did take military action in Libya, waging an air campaign that helped rebels oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. But that NATO action had U.N. approval.
Individual members of the alliance have differing positions.
Poland's prime minister said he wasn't convinced strikes would work, while the Dutch government urged caution. The Italian foreign minister said intervention without a U.N. mandate could turn into a "global conflagration."
"This is how it always begins," said Emma Bonino, the Italian minister.