FRANCE and Britain are preparing to arm anti-Syria rebels even without unanimous EU support, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday.
Paris and London will call for moving up the date of the next European Union meeting on the Syria arms embargo, and will decide to arm the rebels if the 27-member EU does not give unanimous agreement, he said.
France and Britain ask ‘the Europeans now to lift the embargo so that the resistance fighters have the possibility of defending themselves’, he told France Info radio.
If unanimous EU support for lifting the measure is lacking, the French and British governments will decide to deliver weapons, Fabius said.
France ‘is a sovereign nation’, he added.
The next EU meeting to study the embargo is planned for the end of May, but Fabius said Paris and London want to have the meeting earlier.
‘We must move quickly…and we, along with the British, will ask for the meeting to be moved up,’ he said, not ruling out a gathering before the end of March.
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that Britain would consider ignoring an EU arms ban and supplying weapons to Syrian rebels if it would help topple President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile in Syria a statement has been issued by Dr Ahmad Badr-al-Din Hassun, chairman of the ‘Higher Ifta Council of the Syrian Arab Republic’, which issues Fatwas, or Islamic religious rulings.
Hassun said: ‘Syria today is threatened by the most advanced countries in the world in the field of technology, and by some of its brothers who envy it and who bear grudges and hatred against it.
‘It is threatened today because it is the surviving model of the civilised country which turns diversity into richness, and pluralism into strength, not weakness or infighting.’
He added Syria hosts all religions, ‘the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, and the scriptures of Abraham’.
He continued that had Syria agreed to reach peace with Israel after 1973, nothing of what is happening now would have happened, and adds that ‘the children of Syria will not bow except to God’. He says that the current ‘onslaught against us today is targeting our religious history’.
Asked about the media of ‘pulpits, which represent one of the fiercest campaigns against Syria and the Islamic religion, in terms of inciting violence, takfir (holding other Muslims to be infidels), and killing, and attacking the Syrian Arab soldiers who are defending the homeland’, Hassun says that it is the duty of every citizen in Syria to defend it, adding that the sons of Syria are responsible for their country.
He said: ‘I address our people abroad, who can see that Syria is being destroyed under their gaze, yet they are helping in its destruction and seeking the help of some external forces and demanding arms to destroy Syria.
‘I tell them that those who protect Syria are its sons. By Syria’s sons I mean first the Syrian Arab Army, which is accused of being the army of an individual, an army of a denomination, or a sect. I ask all those who accuse it in this way: Is not this army the army of 1973?
‘Is it not the Army that set out to liberate the land, and had it not been for the betrayal of some outside this homeland, we would have entered and reached the borders of Jerusalem that day?
‘That day, an airlift was established between the United States and the Zionist entity, and some of our brothers on the other side signed peace and we remained in the battle alone.’
Hassun says: ‘This Army has been responsible for protecting the homeland from 2011 until today. It is an enormous inequity to describe this Army as an army of an individual or an army of a party or an army of a denomination. It is an army of an ummah and not only an army of the Syrians. It has been defending the entire Arab and Islamic ummah.’
Hassun added: ‘Why is this injustice being done to our Army? There might have been mistakes – and I will be issuing an advice to the Army at the end of this interview – but our Army is your son and mine, your brother and mine; they are the sons of this homeland.
‘What kind of religion, what kind of logic would permit you to kill your brother in this homeland?’ He adds: ‘I ask the entire opposition outside Syria: Have you not seen with your own eyes how they took a number of soldiers at Jisr al-Shughur and Idlib, threw them on the ground and started executing them? Have you seen this? We will leave you to face this question on doomsday and we tell you that we prepared this Army to fight the Zionist entity, not to fight in urban areas, not to fight anyone, not to destroy anything. Why are you destroying it?
‘What saddens me further is when I see a young man carrying on his back or shoulder a Zionist or American weapon, and, looking at a passing aircraft, which is the homeland’s aircraft and not a private aircraft, opens fire at it and shouts: God is Great, we have downed it. Then television channels start singing: The free army has brought down a Syrian aircraft?’
Hassun says this aircraft ‘took off today in order to defend the Syrian people against those who carry over their shoulders an Israeli or American gun to fight the sons of the Syrian Arab Army’. He argues that the Army today is in a state of ‘self-defence, of defending the homeland, which they are trying to besiege at every border, opening hundreds of fronts’.
Hassun continued: ‘If you accuse those inside the homeland of violating honours, then I tell you: Go to the camps and see who violate honours. You are responsible for this. You have driven the people outside Syria.’ He adds: ‘If you do not believe this, go to our girls in the camps and ask them what they are being offered. Have they been offered inside Syria what they are being offered outside Syria? You are responsible for this’.
On the opposition’s ‘cooperation’ with the West, he says: ‘Whoever stood by the side of the US secretary of state and the foreign ministers of France and Britain, knew for certain that these three established the Zionist entity and have been supplying it with money and arms to become stronger than the entire Islamic nation.
‘They go to them, believing that they are Syria’s friends even though they are the enemies of Syria.’
He says that President Bashar al-Assad in his latest speech ‘opened the door for peace and asked the border posts and the Interior Ministry to begin receiving whoever wants to return to the homeland’, and adds: ‘Today, I encourage anyone who would like to do that to come, and I tell them: Continue along this path until you save Syria, which they want to destroy. This is what we want from them now.
‘We tell them: We have differed and we clashed, but enough is enough. Do you want Syria to kneel down and be destroyed so that you might return to a wasteland? Do you want Syria to experience what happened to Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan, and what is happening today to Egypt, which is on fire, and what happened in Libya and Tunisia and Iraq? What are you waiting for, O Syrians? The doors are open to you. Come back, O financiers, politicians, and political ideologues because the country is waiting for you.’
In conclusion, Hassun addressed the opposition abroad, and said: ‘I tell our brothers, do not miss the train. Do not let this opportunity pass. Come back to Syria because Syria will remain protected by God until doomsday. Its Army will be supported by God, its people will be looked after by God, and its mosques, places of worship, and land will be blessed by heaven.’