UK and France’s compulsion to lift the EU arms embargo will only lead to further bloodshed, and any weapons exports may fall into the hands of extremists, British journalist Neil Clark tells RT.
The more weapons they send to Syria, the greater the danger they will be used to strike against their own citizens and across the world, he explains.
Britain and France’s lone push to end the arms embargo on Syria is not conducive to a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict and preparations for negotiations cannot come with the condition of Assad’s resignation. A drive for peace in the region shouldn’t be decided based on an immediate change of government, especially one which still has a strong support base within the country.
RT: All diplomatic efforts to bring peace to Syria have failed so far. Would arming the rebels help them take down Damascus and eventually end the conflict?
NC: Not at all. This position of Britain and France – to sort of aggressively push the EU to end its arms embargo – only means more death and destruction in Syria. It’s very important to understand that the UK and the US and France, they don’t want a peaceful solution to this conflict. They’re hell-bent on one thing and one thing alone, and that is the violent overthrow of President Assad, and the Ba’ath government in Syria. They don’t want peace. We’ve had ample opportunities for peace in the last two years, and every time rebel groups have said that they might want to negotiate it’s been the US or Britain that have held them back. So it’s very important to understand that what they want is regime change –they don’t want peace.
RT: As we can see there are different positions on this – on the one hand we have Russia and the US that will be holding a peace conference later, and on the other there’s Britain and France. But the US has been reluctant to arm the rebels because (NC: ‘directly, yes’) of past incidents when weapons sent to Afghanistan and Libya were eventually turned on westerners. Now shouldn’t France and Britain be worried about those prospects?
NC: Well, absolutely. I mean, you said that the US hasn’t wanted to arm the rebels. They have been indirectly, through proxy. Through countries like Qatar and Turkey for example – they’re the countries that they’ve been sending the weapons through. And I think there will be a massive blowback from this because there’s no doubt it’s 100 per cent sure that if Britain and France send more weapons into this arena they will end up in the hands of groups like the Al-Nusra Front and Al Qaeda-created groups. And these will come back to be used against British citizens in Britain perhaps and across the world. And so, we’ve got a real problem here. We’ve got a British neo-conservative government that’s actually lining up on the same side as Al Qaeda and Islamic extremists in Syria, just a few days after the horrific terror attack in London, when a British soldier was killed by a radical Islamist – and so people ought to wake up to the fact that the British government is actually siding with these radical groups, I’m afraid.
RT: Speaking of the EU’s move – we have an interesting situation here: On the one hand EU officials have stressed they won’t send arms to Syria until at least August but on the other rebels want them now. So why the delay?
NC: Yesterday we had just two countries –Britain and France – who wanted this embargo to be lifted. We had 25 who did not. The UK and France are trying to bully their way through the EU, and so we’ve got this kind of compromise situation –this sort of stay of execution- until August. And I think what will happen is that Britain and France are hell-bent on sending more arms into this conflict, they are obsessed about overthrowing President Assad no matter how many Syrians are killed, no matter how much bloodshed is caused by this, and the rest of the European countries are taking a more sensible line I think. Austria in particular has denounced the British mood on this, and I think it’s up now for other countries of Europe to stand up a bit more to the bully boys of Britain and France on this issue.
RT: We of course have the peace conference in Syria next month, but the rebels still haven’t agreed to attend this conference without preconditions, so what can we even expect from this gathering?
NC: Well, I’m not very optimistic to say the least, because for this to work, it would mean people going in with good faith, to try to honestly, peacefully solve this conflict. But I’m afraid the western powers – the US, the UK and France – they want regime change, and they’re already saying – John Kerry’s already said that the Syrians can have any government they like so long as President Assad is not involved in it, and there’s no recognition of the fact that Assad has sizeable support within Syria, if not majority support. So you can’t say on the one hand that the Syrian people should decide who their government is but then say on the other hand that they can’t have President Assad of the Ba’ath party. There has to be an acknowledgement that President Assad has sizeable support within Syria and the rebels shouldn’t come with preconditions saying that he’s got to go – it’s up to the Syrian people. The Syrian people can vote in elections who their government should be, and it’s not up to Britain or America or France to say who should or shouldn’t be the leader of Syria.
RT: One more question – can Russian air defense systems really help prevent foreign intervention in Syria?
NC: I think they can, and I’m very pleased about this news today, because I think that we’ve already had Israeli attacks on Syria, we’ve had two bombing attacks dropped from Israel onto Syria, and having these air defence systems is very important to deter aggression from NATO powers to bomb Syria – we’ve seen these NATO powers bomb Libya, we saw them bomb Yugoslavia, we saw them attack and destroy Iraq, and I think the Russian line is a good rule for peace – they’re defensive weapons, they’re not attack weapons and the only people who will be concerned about the weapons being deployed are those who want to attack Syria.