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Syria: no military option, no No Fly Zone, even the word “NATO” becomes taboo

the Security Council during the vote on the resolution on Syria (credit: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

(BRUSSELS2) As soon as we talk about a possible military operation for Syria, the response comes from European officials: “ Syria is not Libya". And when we dig deeper, we can see that the NATO operation in Libya has left undeniable traces on the international level which today seem to block any further progress on Syria.


The Libyan precedent weighs

A senior European diplomat confirmed this today. “ The Libyan precedent is still present in everyone's minds. If for some (NATO, the countries which are part of it), the operation in Libya was considered a success and achieved its objectives; for many other countries this is not the case. When you question certain Arab countries, emerging countries, you hear a different story. There is a lot of reserve. » And the consequences are being felt today. THE " declarations from several countries (China, Russia, South Africa, Brazil, India, etc.) in New York » on the draft resolution drawn up on Syria testify to this. " These countries fear a new illustration of a strategy aimed at regime change. »

No military option, no conditions met

Any " military option is not on the table ". Even the idea of ​​a No Fly Zone, the minimum level of military intervention, is “not not currently a point of debate », specifies our interlocutor. During the discussion on the Syria draft resolution at the UN, this point did not appear, moreover, “ At no moment ” in the project, nor “ was not considered ". Moreover, at the political level, no conditions present in the Libyan situation are met. For Libya, “ there had been clear conditions set at the level of the European Council: a request from the countries of the region, in particular the Arab League; a UN resolution authorizing it; an operation limited to the needs observed on site. » For Syria, there is none of that. “ The Arab League never asked for anything. The draft resolution calling for an end to the violence and a political process made no mention of the No Fly Zone. Nobody asked for a military operation or asked for the use of military means. » In short, shut the ban…

The taboo word NATO

And even the word NATO is becoming taboo diplomatically. If the EU has thus announced “ regular contact with the Arab League and consultations daily » with the United States, on the other hand, it refuses any contact with NATO. “ We have not had contact specifies this diplomat who wants to avoid any confusion. " We avoid any mention of the international organization mentioned. (Because) This is one of the real difficulties we have with the Chinese and Russians. Any reminder of the Libyan operation arouses a certain “reservation”, including among our Arab friends ».

No arms delivery

As for the delivery of weapons to the insurgents, this does not appear to be the path followed by the EU. “ There are indeed arms deliveries crossing the border. We have received clear instructions. » But we don't want to go in that direction. " Going towards arms deliveries officially means maintaining civil war.”

Comment: In these words, there is real diplomacy. But also an observation. The operation in Libya was a military success. But the diplomatic price to pay is now proving to be greater than its initiators had anticipated. Russia, in particular, and China, also, no longer want to appear as rump states according to general opinion. Russia's opposition to the Syrian question is fundamental. In Moscow, we do not want a Libyan-style scenario at any price. And if abandoning the regime does not seem to pose much of a problem, in fact, for the Russian regime, it is the method that matters. There is no question of letting Westerners act alone. It is Russia which must appear as the God from the machine of the Syrian situation. It is a question not only of prestige but of power.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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