Lapse of the EU’s arms embargo against Syria gives the West a real opportunity to force Assad to negotiating table


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On the eve of the European Union’s deadline to end the arms embargo on Syria, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) has renewed its call for Western governments to level the playing field in Syria by sending arms to aid beleaguered opposition fighters.

Tomorrow, August 1st is the date by which the arms embargo is set to lapse. Though it was formally lifted in May, an agreement between the 28 EU member states stipulated that arms would not be delivered to the Syrian opposition before August.

This agreement was reached based on the assumption that President Assad would be brought to the negotiating table at international peace talks in Geneva in July. The talks have since failed to take place and, given Assad’s strengthening position, are now unlikely ever to happen without intervention.

The HJS has consistently called for Western intervention in Syria, and believes providing the opposition with the means to defend itself is the only route to halt the growing humanitarian crisis, which has already seen two million Syrians flee to neighbouring countries and risks destabilizing the whole region.

Executive director of the Henry Jackson Society Dr Alan Mendoza said: “EU nations have stated they want a negotiated end to the conflict. But through their inaction, Assad has no incentive to negotiate as he has a monopoly of heavy weapons in Syria and has been using them successfully to win the war on the battlefield.

“If the blood of more innocents is not to be on our hands, we must do something to level the military playing field so that he is forced to think twice and come to the table.

“The lapsing of the arms embargo provides just such an opportunity for our leaders to do the right thing.”


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