“Adding more weapons to this volatile situation could destabilise the entire region…”

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.

Of course, it was US President Barack Obama who, in 2011, unilaterally decided to authorize US forces to use missile strikeskinetic military action” against Libya without the approval of Congress.

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.

Assad, it had been decided, has crossed US President Obama’s “red line“.  The White House statement notes that

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.

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  • sherdy

    Pete, – That ‘suspect package’ was so suspect that it should have been examined by the bomb squad, or maybe the fraud squad.

  • cynic2

    If our two leaders bought it perhaps both needed a spell in The Priory before them came home

  • aquifer

    Martin is very well qualified to give the warning.

  • aquifier,

    True but, perhaps you haven’t heard, he’s a peace keeper now. And his Party partner is a world statesman on a par with Nelson Mandela. Well, according to him some, or so I’ve heard.

  • Pete Baker

    Focus, gentlemen.

    And read the whole thing…

  • GavBelfast


    I’m sure Obama is looking-forward to a lecture about Syria and Merkel something similar on austerity from the Derry Wan.

    I guess “humour him and his mate” are part of their pre-summit briefing ….

  • aquifer

    Societies with a lot of spare young men are prone to violence and disorder. Unermployment is endemic in the middle east. Adding weapons could make a big bloody sectarian mess.

    It could be more productive for the G8 to have a whip round to pay Harland and Wolf to build some water super tankers. Ireland has so much water we can rely on surface water in lakes etc. Most countries have to drill for it.

    The leaders only have to look out the window to see it, or step outside to feel it.

  • cynic2

    “Unermployment is endemic in the middle east. ”

    …because dictators don’t have to answer to the public at elections and use the states money to pay of their associates and the Army

    And its all Gods will.

  • cynic2

    The serious point is this. If a state is perpetrating genocide against a section of its people what do you do.

    We have tried politics but it doesn’t work because the USSR is blocking action in order to protect its proxy Syria. The UN is therefore supine.

    If this continues as a desperate step towards the end Syria may try and turn it into a war against Isreal in the hope of mobilizing Arab support beyond the current state sponsors of terror in Palestine and Iran. He must also be a bit worried about the moderates doing so well in the Iranian elections

    So do we have three choices

    * just sit back and let nature take its course leading to thousands on men women and children (on both sides but predominantly the rebels) be slaughtered

    * offer limited help to the rebels to destroy Assad’s aircraft and tanks evening the odds a bit and damaging his capacity to use chemical weapons

    * take out his air force Armour and artillery ourselves and establish a no-fly zone to protect key civilian areas

    None of this is easy. Some of the rebels are very odd and dangerous groups. But how we handle this may define Middle East politics for the next 25 years so we need to make the right choice. For me that is to arm the rebels with small arms anti tank weapons and anti air.

    I also wouldn’t be averse to some special forces assisting with training and operations in key areas.The Russians and the Iranians are doing the same on the Assad side. I would be appalled if we did what the UN did in Bosnia and literally run away and hand these people over to be murdered

  • cynic2

    Given Marty’s Party’s links with the Palestinians groups and Hezbollah’s active role in fighting on Assad’s side why is anyone surprised at his line on Syria? We have to support old friends you know.

    Perhaps the US media might like to note that connection!

  • sonofstrongbow

    Firstly cynic2 makes an important point, it is the Palestinian linked Hezbollah from Lebanon that has intervened with weaponry and fighters in Syria (there were Palestinian flag carrying protestors at the G8 protest march in Belfast protesting about Israeli incursions onto Palestinian lands, perhaps some violent incursions are ok).

    As to Marty’s comments, they are simply more of the same. Marty goes for the default Big Bad Brits option ignoring the facts. No doubt he will bend President Obama’s ear about the reality that it is the Americans who have decided to send arms into Syria.

  • Ulidian


    That’s an utterly fatuous comparison – “Hezbollah” are supporting their Shia and Alawite brothers, who are being attacked by Sunni insurgents/terrorists.

  • tacapall

    Strangely enough SOS you seem to leave out the bit about loyalist protestors carrying Israeli flags singing sectarian songs, they really did show themselves for what they really are sectarian bigots.

    The reality is British and American special forces are already on the ground in Syria, who do you think the rebels are. If the recent Woolwhich so called beheading is the excuse Britain needs to arm those so called rebels who are really mercenaries then people need to wake up.

  • cynosure

    I’m surprised in you SOS. You always struck me as someone with a keen understanding of most things but the days of Assad’s links to the Palestian resistance as long over. Hamas sits on the Sunni side of what is fast becoming a sectarian struggle. They severed ties to Damascas sometime ago and shifted their external power base to Cairo and are closely aligned to the, Sunni, Muslim Brotherhood. The growth of Salafist brigades and Al Queda linked groups in the Syrian Rebel’s ranks means that Obama now supports those the war on terror set out to confront. I use the present tense as the Americans declared to start ‘directly’ supplying the rebels. But we knew the CIA have been involved for some time.

  • cynosure

    Meanwhile, Iran elects a reformist candidate with a massive mandate. The most poignant image was of the Iranian women voting in what must be a rarity in the middle east. I wonder if we will ever see such a thing in Wahabi Saudi Arabia?

    No, instead Saudi and qatari weapons and Western support will flood in in greater numbers. Will the Iranian and Russian put even more in? Yet again another country will be used to fight proxy wars and the people will suffer. Eventually the rebels will win and we will have a sectarian bloodbath that will make Iraq look like the troubles. Martin is right and you would do well not to sneer at everything he says. If he said snow was white you’d argue with it.

  • cynosure

    ‘You’, as in the whole shower, rather than an individual.

  • Ulidian


    The “rebels” aren’t going to win – they’ll only ever be able to control part of what was once Syria.

  • cynosure

    You are probably right. I guess I meant when Assad loses. Reading my posts back, they seen pretty jumbled and I’m sorry I got a little narky at the end. I just find the whole situation appalling and I worry about the children being hurt. It’s very upsetting and when people start using the situation as a stick to beat local politicians here, it seems so petty and nasty. I find it so disrespectful to the Syrian people. This is a serious matter and whatever you think of MMcG, to us this as an excuse to attack him is disgusting. He feels, rightly in my opinion, that supplying the rebels with arms is a mistake. Challenge that position, rather than him or his past. Frankly, to link everything he does or every topical news stories to old news stories about what you perceive as his embarrassing past, in ever more tenuous and feeble ways, ad nauseum is ultimately only make you appear vexatious and shrill. Stop it

  • cynosure

    ‘You’ as in not you, Ulidian. God, I need to read these before I hit submit. I’m as bad with emails.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Thanks for the lecture cynosure. You do realise that it is you who comes across as rather “shrill”?

    McGuinness involved himself in this matter with his partisan comments calling on the other G8 leaders to basically censure the UK over its stance on Syria.

    You seemingly do not find this strange, given that President Obama is one of those leaders and it is the USA that has undertaken to supply the rebels with munitions. With his focus on the UK McGuinness betrays his own parochial prejudices and should be challenged on it, notwithstanding your concerns about such commentary.

    As to McGuinness himself. He brings his baggage with him and I can assure you that I find his past rather more than merely “embarrassing” as you so charmingly put it.

    On Syria itself, the UK should concentrate its efforts on promoting a UN led humanitarian intervention only. No western weapons should be supplied. It will be perilous for all, especially those Syrians on the ground and in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

    The Sunni and Shia power blocks in the region seem intent on confronting each other. You cannot discount Iran’s meddling inside other countries in the Middle East as a major contributing factor in that escalation in tensions.

  • Ulidian


    I just love the way you refer to Iran’s “meddling”.

  • cynic2


    Just why do you think the trouble in Iraq has been so bad?

    Many of the bombs used to kill our troops and american forces there have come from Iran with the support of the Revolutionary Guards and support of the leadership. They have two objectives – to attack the Great Satan and keep Iraq – their mian rival – as unstable as possible. They are doing the same in the Palestinian territories through their agent Hezbulloah

    Part sectarian. Part political

  • cynic2

    “This is a serious matter and whatever you think of MMcG, to us this as an excuse to attack him is disgusting.”

    I am sorry but I disagree. If he chooses to grandstand in favor of one side (linked to an organisation the terrorist wing of his party formerly appeared to support) then he must expect comment on this. That I am afraid is politics.

    I share your horror though and your concern at what is happening in Syria.

  • cynic2

    “they really are sectarian bigots.”

    Strangely any Loyalists who support the Israelis are sectarian bigots but republicans who support Hezbollah – a terrorist group engaged in a vicioust racist war with Israeli and a sectarian war with fellow moslems in Syria – are not

    That seems a somewhat unbalanced sense of values

  • Ulidian


    And how did the bad blood between the US and Iran start? With Washington’s “meddling” in Iranian affairs. The Yanks have a sordid history of that sort of thing.

  • mac tire

    Cynic, you really do seem obsessed with that word “racist” and, to be honest, it has been pointed out to you repeatedly that your use of it is weak, to say the least.

    If “race” exists, you cheapen the word by using it so extensively. It’s noticeable also that you only use this term in relation to those you disagree with.

  • Zig70

    Firstly, I don’t understand how clubbing a few hundred people to death is okay but if you gas them it’s a redline. Bizarre. Anyway, politicians employing different ethics for themselves and others is just normal politics. The English are class leaders in this and have taught Marty well. I’d agree, more arms are not the answer but I was hoping to see how that populist shite Cameron stood up to Putin. No nuts, thought so.

  • tacapall

    “Many of the bombs used to kill our troops and american forces there have come from Iran with the support of the Revolutionary Guards and support of the leadership. They have two objectives – to attack the Great Satan and keep Iraq – their mian rival – as unstable as possible. They are doing the same in the Palestinian territories through their agent Hezbulloah”

    Like this –

    British “Undercover Soldiers” Caught driving Booby Trapped Car


    or the Woolwhich beheading

    “After 20 minutes, it was the SO19 who turned up – not the ordinary police. The ‘Special Operations’ cadre are elite army killers.

    I asked the on-site police officer in our school: ”I bet your briefing this morning at the station was an intense one.’

    “Officer: I was expecting exactly that, but it was just too odd. I asked why there’s no briefing, believing we’d be told which streets to be in and what to look out for, but no. Nothing. It was as if it hadn’t happened.

    “‘In fact, the skipper said ‘it didn’t happen.’

    “He told me he didn’t recognise any of the officers on his own patch at the scene either nor any of the members of the public, despite always seeing the same people.”

    “A post-mortem into the death of Drummer Lee Rigby has formally identified him but failed to confirm the cause of death, Scotland Yard said.” you can’t corrupt everyone, and the doctors have not endorsed the idea that he died as stated.”

  • And so starts another conspiracy theory.

  • tacapall

    I could throw you up a link with the audio of the children talking on the bus that allegedly witnessed the beheading Joe, but sure if your minds already made up then you just keep believing what your told to believe.

  • tacapall,

    I’m just not a fan of conspiracy theories even though Diana may have been dispatched by MI5 or some other UK murky group.
    Did I ever mention anything about the time I was abducted by aliens?

  • cynosure

    I guess I was a bit shrill. I can accept that. I still believe that MMcG makes a valid point and though it is right to challenge him on it, by bringing up his past, it now lessons your argument if you disagree with him. Some people will never forget/forgive what he was. That’s their right and I don’t expect them to accept my next point. For people like me his past is now the past and he stands and falls on his political record and not his parilitary one.

  • Harry Flashman

    I am not ashamed to say that unlike most others on this thread I haven’t a clue who the good guys and who the bad guys are in Syria. Brutal dictator who uses sectarianism and horrific violence to hold on to power or brutal rebels who use sectarianism and horrific violence to seize power?

    It’s a tough call, can’t we adopt Kissinger’s “a pity they both can’t lose” position and stay the hell as far away as possible? Or do we have to intervene in everybody’s quarrel?

  • cynic2

    “do we have to intervene in everybody’s quarrel?”

    I don’t want involved in anyone’s quarrel but when they start to murder people on an industrial scale ………

  • skibeagle

    hi cynic , you say that Iraq are Iran’s main rival. I would have thought that with the fall of Saddam and the fact that the Shia majority in Iraq are now in power Iraq and Iran are not rivals anymore ?

  • Harry Flashman

    “they start to murder people on an industrial scale ………”

    Which side would that be?

    People are murdered on industrial scales in Africa every fart’s end, how come we don’t feel the need to get involved there?

    Furthermore why are we specifically getting involved? I mean the UK?

    The Czech Republic, Norway, India, New Zealand, Brazil or two hundred or so other countries seem to feel they can get by in the world tut-tutting and making the odd meaningless speech in the UN and feel no particular need to fly their young men and women on the next plane out to some hell-hole to have them blown apart.

    What makes Britain feel that it has some obligation to intervene in civil wars in distant lands the populations of which don’t actually want them and never asked for them?

    Britain has zero obligation to intervene in Syria or to get involved on either side (and we’ll pass over why the industrial scale murder of rebels in Bahrain didn’t raise a cheep of protest), it ain’t the Rhineland and the Third Reich isn’t on the march in Damascus. It’s just a squalid little civil war fought among equally ghastly scumbags.

    Stay the hell out of it, let them kill themselves as much as they want and leave it up to Allah to decide who the good guys were.

  • cynic2

    ” Iraq and Iran ” ……but Iran has been fomenting the civil war there since the allies invaded

  • cynic2


    T%hats exactly the same position many people took in Spain in the late 30s then Germany

    “Nothing to do with me Gov” …..but then it all came back to bite us.

    As for Africa, I agree. And something should be done about it. Dictators and despots should know there will be retribution

  • Harry Flashman

    Spain had their civil war, Franco won. Had absolutely no effect on world history, Hitler was already in power, so was Hirohito.

    A lot of misguided people went to Spain from different countries and got killed by Spanish people or people from other countries or killed Spanish people or people from other countries in a war that was entirely a Spanish internal matter, as civil wars usually are.

    As I recall the rebels in Spain were the “bad guys”, the secularist barely legitimate rulers of Spain were the “good guys”, and both sides inflicted unspeakable atrocities on the other. May turn out to be the same in Syria.

    “Something should be done” is not always the most sensible option. Look at Libya.

  • tacapall

    “Iran obviously has problems and is far from perfect. But given the tidal wave of propaganda in the news which is doing everything possible to “demonize the enemy” to justify war, we think it is valuable to provide some balance and perspective.”


  • The area now comprising Syria and Lebanon has never been stable, even under the Ottoman empire. Different groups and sects were always at each others throats and attacking each other at the slightest perceived “offence”. There was a pogrom in Damascus over 3 days in 1860, for example, and an estimated 25,000 Christians slaughtered. That’s why most Christians headed to the mountains in Lebanon from where they had ongoing battles with the Druze sect.
    The only solution that would seem to be capable of ending internecine conflicts would be a Bosnia type one – a lot of mini states in a loose federation.

  • Kevsterino

    @Harry, from what I’ve gathered, the most significant effect of the Spanish Civil War that is largely missed is how the outcome effected the Soviet leadership. There is a school of thought that says when the Kremlin saw the weakness of western resolve to fight fascism, they concluded the west could not be counted on in a conflict with the Nazis. This led them to the Ribbentrop/Molotov agreement.

    That is certainly a global effect from a civil war.

  • cynic2

    “Iran obviously has problems and is far from perfect. ”

    Absolutely. AT the last elections young female protesters were beaten and raped> Young males were beaten rape ad sodomized sometimes with brush shafts. Yep…far from perfect …..but it has some nice scenery

  • Pete Baker

    Once again, I see comprehension remains a criminally under-taught, or under-learned, skill in the Northern Ireland education system.

    Focus gentlemen.

    And read the whole thing…

  • tacapall

    “young males were beaten rape ad sodomized sometimes with brush shafts. Yep…far from perfect”

    Maybe you have a real bad memory but did loyalists not do that to one of their own in the Maze prison a while back, I could get you proof of that happening, maybe you could post us up proof of your claims.