Syria Live: G8 Foreign Ministers Say Little of Note After Two-Day Meeting


April 12, 2013 | Scott Lucas in EA Live, EA Middle East and Turkey, Middle East & Iran

0855 GMT: US Aid. Confirming leaks from officials earlier this week, US President Barack Obama authorized the release Thursday of up to $10 million in food and medicine for insurgents. In a press appearance with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the White House, Obama said:

    Secretary-General Ban and I shared the view that we are at a critical juncture, that it is important for us to bring about an effective political transition that would respect the rights of all Syrians and that, in the interim, it’s important for us to try to eliminate some of the carnage that has been taking place directed at civilians and non-combatants.

0525 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees claim 149 people were killed on Thursday, including 41 in Homs Province, 36 in Aleppo Province, and 33 in Damascus and its suburbs.

The Violations Documentation Center reports 56,324 people killed since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 148 on Wednesday. Of the dead, 44,754 are civilians, a rise of 66 from yesterday.

0510 GMT: International Powers and the Insurgency. The Wednesday-Thurday meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G8 — eight of the world’s most countries — offered the prospect of developments in the Syrian conflict, especially in relation to the insurgency. Leading figures of the oppostion, including Prime Minister-designate Ghassan Hitto, were in London to establish their bona fides, and the Ministers were expected to discuss the possibility of enhanced aid, including “non-lethal” assistance to insurgents.

In the end, however, almost nothing of note came out publicly. The G8 said it was “appalled” by the deaths and “expressed deep concerns about the increasing human tragedy of the conflict in Syria. They urged all countries to boost their contributions to a Unation Nations aid appeal.

There was no mention of assistance to the insurgency.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking after these nominal declarations, pointed to the lack of international action:

The United Nations Security Council has not fulfilled its responsibilities because it is divided. That division continues. Have we solved that division at this meeting? No. We didn’t expect to do so.

The world has failed so far in its responsibilities and continues to do so.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met opposition leaders on the sidelines of the talks, but  US officials said Kerry made “no promises”, for example, on supply of weapons — let alone the anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems that the insurgency has requested.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed reluctance to take such a step:

    To date I have seen no way to prevent these weapons getting into the wrong hands, namely those of radicals.  My concern is that weapons that are delivered to Syria will then get into the hands of jihadists and terrorists which then could be deployed against moderate democratic forces, and I fear that some jihadist or Islamist terrorists see Damascus as a stopover to Jerusalem at best.