The Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers were in a sunny Downing Street garden yesterday, welcoming that suspect package, and extolling the virtues of demonstrating “peacefully, positively, constructively” [Is that with, or without, a Thompson sub-machine gun? - Ed] Without, probably… ANYhoo, on the same day Sinn Féin released the text of what appears to be a different speech to that delivered in Downing Street by the
Mid Ulster MP Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness – made at an undisclosed location. [In his head? - Ed] You might very well think that… He begins by welcoming “President Obama and the other world leaders visit to this part of Ireland for the first time”, and then starts pontificating “on the world stage”
On the world stage the G8 leaders must find solutions to the growing instability in the Middle East and the threat to the region posed by the escalating conflict in Syria.
I believe that the failure by the EU Foreign Ministers to reach agreement on continuing the arms embargo to Syria when they met is a major set-back to efforts to negotiate a ceasefire. I would urge the other G8 leaders to impress on the British government the folly of its efforts to allow the arming of opposition forces in Syria. I believe that this would only exacerbate and prolong the conflict. [added emphasis]
Adding more weapons to this volatile situation could destabilise the entire region. The best way to stop the conflict is through peace talks and a peace process. The USA and Russia have recently shown an interest in creating a forum for the Government and rebels to try start peace talks.
This is a welcome initiative and needs to be given more time. Exporting weapons to Syria will only continue to fuel this civil war and claim more lives. I hope that the USA and Russia will further explore this initiative with the other participants at the upcoming G8 Summit in Fermanagh.
And it was US President Barack Obama who, as reported in the New York Times on the 13 June, the day before Martin McGuinness’ 14 June dated speech,
The Obama administration, concluding that the troops of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria have used chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country’s civil war, has decided to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition, according to American officials.
The officials held out the possibility that the assistance, coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency, could include antitank weapons, but they said that for now supplying the antiaircraft weapons that rebel commanders have said they sorely need is not under consideration.
Following on the credible evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, the President has augmented the provision of non-lethal assistance to the civilian opposition, and also authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), and we will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks.
This effort is aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the SMC, and helping to coordinate the provision of assistance by the United States and other partners and allies.
Put simply, the Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC. These efforts will increase going forward.
The United States and the international community have a number of other legal, financial, diplomatic, and military responses available.
We are prepared for all contingencies, and we will make decisions on our own timeline.
And the New York Times editorial on 14 June points at other pressures on Obama to act
Chemical weapons are not the only factor driving the administration’s decision. Although Mr. Obama and others predicted long ago that Mr. Assad would fall to the rebels, the Syrian leader is still in power, and his forces — aided by Iran and Hezbollah militants — have scored significant strategic advances in recent weeks. Rebel leaders allied with the West have pleaded for assistance beyond the medicine and food already provided by Washington; other promised aid, like night vision goggles and body armor, apparently has not arrived.
Mr. Obama has also come under increasing attack from a small number of American politicians, including former President Bill Clinton, who this week said Mr. Obama risks looking “lame” for not doing more to help the rebels. It was a cheap shot leveled at an event hosted by Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, a leading advocate of aggressive action in Syria. It is irresponsible for critics like Mr. McCain and Mr. Clinton to fault Mr. Obama without explaining how the United States can change the course of that brutal civil war without being dragged too far into it.
Meanwhile, the UK has “taken ‘no decision’ to arm the Syrian rebels after the US declared it would provide them with military support.” Syria is on the agenda in Fermanagh. Among other items of business...
It’s good to know our own local Dear Leaders are keeping so well-informed on the bigger, international picture. And not simply still desperate for any excuse to have a go at the Brits… [Obama has a Nobel Peace Prize, you know... -Ed] Indeed. But, then, who hasn’t?
But, if the NI deputy First Minister is still concerned, then perhaps he’ll get the chance to tell the current US President, directly, about the “folly” of his actions. Just like he promised to do with a former US President. And how did that go, again?
Thankfully our indigenous administrators have zero responsibility for, and zero influence on, anyone‘s foreign policy.