Assad must resign, says Obama

On 19 June 1967, the Israeli cabinet voted to return the Golan to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement. 

In May 2004, the American President signed E.O. 13338 (PDF 95.3MB) implementing the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SAA) which imposes a series of sanctions against Syria for its 'support for terrorism', 'involvement in Lebanon', 'weapons of mass destruction programs', and the 'destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq'.

2005 - 'Syria and Lebanon: A Brotherhood Transformed'

August 8, 2006 - 'Peace Between Hizbullah and Israel? It Almost Happened'

September 20, 2007 - 'Netanyahu breaks silence on Syria'
December 3, 2008 - 'Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria'
May 8, 2009 - 'Obama renews U.S. sanctions on Syria'

Feb 4, 2010 - 'Israel Warns Syria It Would Lose Future War'
Israel's foreign minister harshly warned Syria Thursday against drawing the Jewish state into another war, saying its troops would be trounced and its regime would collapse in a future conflict. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also advised Syria to abandon its dreams of recovering the Israeli-held Golan Heights
May 3, 2010 - 'Obama Renews Syria Sanctions'
Jun. 6, 2011 - 'Netanyahu: Syria provoking Israel to divert attention from internal bloodshed'
August 19, 2011 - 'Syria: Assad must resign, says Obama'
Nov 28, 2011 - 'Syria committed crimes against humanity: U.N. report'
March 4, 2012 - 'The United Nations Accuses Syria of "Crimes against Humanity"
Sep 12, 2013 - 'Obama Insists: Assad Must Step Down'
Sep 13, 2013 - 'Assad guilty of crimes against humanity, says UN chief Ban Ki-Moon'

Oct.10, 2013 - IDF chief: Israel must go by Iran and Syria's 'actions, not talk'
Oct. 23, 2013 - Defense Minister: Israel closely monitoring situation in Syria, adhering to 'red lines'

Libyan invasion was planned in advance

On 1.3.2011, speaking at a conference in Brussels, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said ‘international moves to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to stop Moamer Kadhafi using air strikes against his own people, had not been discussed by the Israeli government’. “If you ask me personally, I think it should be imposed. There is a danger of genocide. Morally we have to stop it. Its best to have the UN’s okay”, Ayalon said. (AFP) (Ayalon was the Israeli embassador in Washington)

On 2.3.2011 (just 1 day after the visit of the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to the NATO headquarters in Brussels), the American Minister of State Hillary Clinton, who has a very good relation with the Israeli-American lobbygroup AIPAC, said that Gadaffi ‘had to go’ and that ‘ nobody had to leave crocodile tears’.

Photo: victims of the by the United Nations authorized NATO bombings on Libya (Nasser University in Tripoli)



UN report will accuse Syria of crimes against humanity

Between 1961 and 1971 about 77 million litres of Agent Orange were sprayed over approximately 2.9 million hectares in Vietnam, much of it farmland. During what the Vietnamese called the American War signs of the effects of this spraying began to emerge among soldiers and civilians. The Vietnamese have long claimed that Agent Orange has seriously damaged the health of those who lived in the areas where it was used. Despite United States assertions that no proof exists to support this claim, that country’s own veterans of the war in Vietnam who came into contact with Agent Orange are able to claim compensation for a range of medical conditions acknowledged to be associated with dioxin.

Although the defoliation program ended in 1971, for many years high levels of dioxin remained in the soil over which Agent Orange was sprayed. Vietnamese studies have shown a higher level of deformity and illness, including mental retardation, among children born in areas that were subject to spraying than those born in other areas of the country.

While children born in the 1990s continued to exhibit illness and deformities associated with Agent Orange, Vietnam’s monsoon climate means that over time much of the dioxin that was sprayed over the country has washed into the sea. For Vietnamese civilians, however, even more than three decades after the war ended, the effects of Agent Orange linger.


A Farewell to Arms

The film is about a romantic love affair between an American ambulance driver and an English nurse in Italy during World War I. 

On the Italian front during World War I, Frederic Henry, an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, delivers some wounded soldiers to a hospital. There he meets his friend, Italian Major Rinaldi, a doctor. They go out carousing, but are interrupted by a bombing raid. Frederic and English Red Cross nurse Catherine Barkley take shelter in the same place. The somewhat drunk Frederic makes a poor first impression.

Rinaldi persuades Frederic to go on a double romantic date with him and two nurses, Catherine and her friend Helen Ferguson. However, Rinaldi becomes annoyed when Frederic prefers Catherine, the woman the major had chosen for himself. Away by themselves, Frederic learns that she was engaged to a soldier who was killed in battle. In the darkness, he romantically seduces her, over her half-hearted resistance, and is surprised to discover she is a virgin.

Their romantic relationship (forbidden by army regulation) is discovered. At Rinaldi's suggestion, Catherine is transferred to Milan. When Frederick is wounded by artillery, he finds himself in the hospital where Catherine now works. They continue their affair until he is sent back to the war. Now pregnant, Catherine runs away to Switzerland, but her many letters to her beloved sweetheart/lover are intercepted by Rinaldi, who feels he needs to rescue his friend from the romantic entanglement. Meanwhile, Frederic's letters to her are sent to the hospital which she has abandoned.

When Frederic cannot stand it any longer, and he deserts them to find Catherine. Returning first to the hospital in Milan, he attempts to convince the reluctant Ferguson to reveal Catherine's whereabouts to him. Displaying animosity toward Frederic, all she reveals finally is that Catherine has left and is pregnant with Frederic's child. Rinaldi visits him at the hotel where he is hiding, and, upon hearing of Catherine's pregnancy, out of remorse for having interfered with their correspondence, tells Frederic where she is living. He rows across a lake to her. Meanwhile, Catherine is delighted when she is told she has finally received some mail, but faints when she is given all of her romantic love letters, marked "Return to Sender". She is taken to the hospital, where her child is delivered stillborn. She herself is in grave danger. Frederic arrives, and just as an armistice between Italy and Austria-Hungary is announced, Catherine tragically dies, with him at her side.



Latest News Syria

Damascus, Army pursues terrorists in several areas

Army on Thursday continued pursuing armed terrorist groups in several provinces, inflicting heavy losses upon them and destroying their criminal tools. 

President al-Assad refers bill on 2014 state budget to People's Assembly

Damascus, (SANA) - President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday referred to the People's Assembly a draft law on the general state budget for the fiscal year 2014 to be put forward before the Assembly

Army regains control over Htaitet al-Turkman in Damascus countryside, al-Sukhna town in Palmyra

Damascus countryside, (SANA) -Army units on Thursday regained full control over Htaitet al-Turkman town in Damascus countryside, having eliminated the residual terrorist groups in the area.

Premier: Genuine Arab art deepens attachment to land

Damascus, (SANA) _ Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi said the late legendary singer, Wadih al-Safi was one of the iconic artistic figures in the Arab world due to his invaluable contribution to Arab singing and music.

A citizen martyred, 40 others injured in Car bomb blast in al-Ahram Street in Homs

Homs, (SANA) -A terrorist car bomb exploded in al-Ahram Street near al-Nuzha roundabout, Homs, claiming the life of a citizen and the injury of 40 others, among them women and children.

National vaccination campaign targeting 1.6 million children launched

Damascus, (SANA)- The Health Ministry on Thursday launched a nation-wide vaccination campaign against measles and poliomyelitis at all health centers and makeshift residential centers, which will last until the 21st of November.

Agreement between Ministry of Electricity and Syrian-European Complex for Heavy Industries signed

Damascus, (SANA) _ The Ministry of Electricity and the Syrian-European Complex for Heavy Industries signed a memo of understanding (MoU) to build wind farms in the areas with promising wind energy.

Bill establishing electronic copying offices at Justice Ministry approved

Damascus, (SANA)- The People's Assembly on Thursday approved a draft law establishing electronic copying offices at the Ministry of Justice and all courts and judicial circles.

Electricity Minister: Electricity to be fully restored within hours

Damascus, (SANA) _Minister of Electricity, Imad Khamis said that power is gradually returning to all areas after securing alternative sources of fuel.

Foreign Ministry: Conclusions of EU Foreign Ministers on Syria incorrect 

Damascus, (SANA)-An official spokesman of the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that the European Foreign Ministers adopted a group of conclusions on Syria, at their final meeting in Luxemburg.

Local Administration Minister: SYP 72 million allocated for improving services in Jaramana  

Damascus countryside, (SANA)_ Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs, Minister of Local Administration Eng. Omar Ghalawanji ordered the immediate rehabilitation of Nazir Monzer.

Putin: Geneva conference on Syria success for international community

Moscow, (SANA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that the ongoing preparations to hold the international conference on Syria represent a success.

Social Affairs Minister calls upon NGOs to participate in 2014 humanitarian response plan

Damascus, (SANA) - Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Kinda al-Shammat, called upon the civil societies to set their plans and humanitarian aid program in the framework of preparing the humanitarian response plan.

Internal Trade Ministry denies Media reports on wheat shortage

Damascus, (SANA) – The Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection dismissed as baseless the media reports which alleged the bakeries of Qudsyyeh and al-Hamah.

Brahimi: International near-consensus that there can be no military solution to crisis in Syria

Amman, (SANA) - UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said that there's a near-consensus in the international community that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Syria.


(The website of the Syrian News Agency Sana is regularly blocked by the western intelligence services)



Tracking Belgian Weapons in Libya


Syrian.terrorists.Selim Idriss.verhofstadt.jpg

Some of the Western powers that were fighting Colonel Qaddafi’s military from the air and sea had, over the years, helped arm the very military they were criticizing for its attacks on civilians.
These Western weapons — including American 81-millimeter high-explosive ordnance; Italian air-to-ground rockets; and Belgian rifles, ammunition and land mines — all ended up, in time, in 'rebel' hands.

Belgian rifles were perhaps the most widely seen of the Western weapons. When Colonel Qaddafi’s Soviet-inspired armor columns moved on Libya’s cities, the gunmen riding along did not all carry Kalashnikovs. Many of them clutched Belgian exports, sometimes under circumstances that seemed almost to mock the spirit behind the limited rules that regulate the transfer of conventional weapons between states.

Roughly one month before Belgian F-16s would roam the Libyan skies, the tiny European country discovered on YouTube that its weapons were in the hands of those who chose to fight Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

 A man in Benghazi, was holding a weapon with odd, easily recognizable features: the F.N. 303, a launcher designed by the Belgian company Fabrique Nationale de Herstal and shipped in 2009. The launcher was part of a deal between F.N. Herstal and the Libyan government in May 2008. The Belgian arms factory agreed to sell, along with the 2,000 F.N. 303’s, 367 F2000 automatic rifles, 367 P90 submachine guns, 367 Five Seven pistols, 30 Minimi machine guns, 22,032 40-millimeter grenades for the F2000s, 50 Renaissance pistols and 1.1 million rounds of ammunition. All in all, a deal worth more than 12 million euros, or almost $16 million at current exchange rates.

In Belgium’s decentralized political system, the regions have been responsible for approving licenses for arm exports since 2003. F.N. Herstal has a peculiar status: Although it is a private company, its one and only shareholder is the Walloon regional government. In order to ship the weapons to Libya, a longtime customer, F.N. needed authorization. The licenses were granted in quite an unusual way. The special commission in charge of investigating the deal was not able to make a clear decision at first. But under political and labor union pressure, the Walloon government agreed to the deal the day after regional elections in June 2009, when the Parliament could not gather and oppose the move.

Moreover, according to Belgian documents found in Libya by a Human Rights Watch team, part of the weapons shipment was ready roughly three weeks before the licenses were granted. It was a way to put more pressure on the government.

Officially, the weapons were to go to the Khamis Brigade, a special army unit under the direct command of Khamis Gaddafi, the youngest son of Colonel Qaddafi. The unit wanted to “replace its old and dysfunctional weapons” with new ones in order to “escort humanitarian convoys to Darfur.” In August 2009, two Belgian groups went to court to cancel the licenses, arguing that the weapons might be used in human rights abuses. Two months later, the Supreme Administrative Court of Belgium ruled in the case. But it was too late: F.N. Herstal had already shipped most of the weapons. A few weeks later, the Walloon government granted new licenses for the rest of the order.

By the end of November 2009, all the Belgian weapons had arrived in Libya. They would reappear, one by one, in photos and videos of the revolution until Colonel Qaddafi was captured in Surt. His golden gun, a Browning, was seized and displayed for the cameras as symbol of the government’s fall. The golden Browning bears an obvious “Made in Belgium” marking. It was part of the 2008 deal, among the 50 Renaissance pistols bought from F.N. Herstal. Before its shipment, it had been engraved with the seal of the Khamis Brigade.

Rebels captured other F.N. Herstal weapons from the same lot and bearing the same seal, first in Misurata, which had been besieged by the Khamis Brigade; then in Bani Walid; and finally in Tripoli. They are now in the hands of some members of the Transitional National Council, including its chairman, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil. He appeared on the Zuwarah city television channel aiming an F2000. Whether owned by Libya’s old or new rulers, the Belgian weapons bearing the Khamis Brigade seal have clearly served other purposes than the humanitarian ones for which they were sold.

Older Belgian weapons like the F.N. FAL or F.N. MAG, have been found in significant quantities in Libya. And they could prove to be more of a threat to the region’s stability than the shipment from 2009.

Robert Sauvage, a spokesman for the weapons company, said that “F.N. Herstal never makes any comments on its orders, their destinations, their nature and the quantities of weapons it sells.”

“For obvious reasons, related to industrial and commercial strategies,” he added, “we never give any information to the public concerning the nature, the quantity, the price and the destinations of our defense contracts.”

A Belgian PRB anti-vehicular mine in Misurata, libya, in the spring. A rebel said he planned to remove its explosive charge to pack into an RPG round to try to make it more powerful.C. J. ChiversA Belgian P.R.B. anti-vehicle mine in Misurata, Libya, in the spring. A rebel said he planned to remove its explosive charge and pack it into a rocket-propelled grenade to improve its power.

Large numbers of Belgian land mines, the P.R.B. M3A1 and P.R.B. NR-442, were also found in Libya. These mines were probably manufactured and sold to Libya in the 1970s and 1980s by the Poudrières Réunies de Belgique before the company went bankrupt in 1990. They were laid or stockpiled in crates in unguarded warehouses. The antitank landmine P.R.B. M3A1 has even been found in an improvised explosive device. The Belgian mines have also been used by anti-Qaddafi fightersA BBC videoshowed some of them planting the land mines in April. Shortly after, the Transitional National Council promised to stop using the mines and to destroy any that had been stockpiled.

What will happen to those mines and rifles, old and new, remains an open question. Changes in the licensing process are being prepared, and statements made in 2009 and 2011 by the Supreme Administrative Court of Belgium might have an effect. Meanwhile, F.N. Herstal and other Belgian weapons manufacturers continue to make deals with countries like Saudi Arabia, and the details remain opaque.

Arms sales — and the circumstances behind them — are much less transparent than governments might have you believe. 



1) Former Belgian Prime Minister and leader of the European liberals, Guy Verhofstadt, and Gadaffi. Verhofstadt was pleading for a military intervention in Libya and is actually pleading for a military intervention in Syria. He has good relations with the representants of the oil and weapons industry.

2) Verhofstadt and general Idris of the so called Syrian opposition.

3) One of the F2000 rifles sold by F.N. Herstal to Colonel Qaddafi’s government under a Belgian license that allowed the transfer on the grounds that the weapons would  protect Libyan aid convoys to Sudan. It was captured in May by a rebel from Qaddafi soldiers who were defeated at Misurata.


Vladimir Putin is a real hero

Jovial: There may have been a cull in smiles after Putin admitted to helping arm Syria

Thanks to Putin, Syria was not bombarded in favor of the oil and arms industry (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya,).

Thanks to Putin we don't have to pay for it again.


Some interesting links:




Syria: Get up, stand up - don't give up the fight!


Putin: Geneva conference on Syria represents success for international community

Moscow, (SANA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that the ongoing preparations to hold the international conference on Syria represent a success for the entire international community... Read more


'This webpage is not available'


Some minutes later:

Putin: Geneva conference on Syria represents success for international community

Oct 23, 2013

Moscow, (SANA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that the ongoing preparations to hold the international conference on Syria represent a success for the entire international community, stressing the need to resolve the crisis in Syria using diplomatic methods.

In statements while receiving the credentials of ambassadors at the Kremlin on Wednesday, Putin noted that the most important thing is that Russia's position – which is based on the necessity of finding a political solution for the crisis using diplomatic methods – was met by understanding and support from the majority of countries.

Putin affirmed that Moscow believes that the priority should be adhering to international law and the UN role, and that it always supports diplomatic work and negotiations leading to solutions acceptable by everyone.

He also voiced Russia's readiness to assist Iraq in the fields of security, energy and technology, affirming support for the Iraqi authorities' efforts to restore stability to the country.

H. Sabbagh


(The blog of the Syrian News Agency is regularely blocked by the western intelligence services)

Latest News Syria: Heavy losses inflicted upon terrorists

Oct. 23, 2013, Provinces, (SANA) – Army units on Wednesday pursued terrorists infiltrating into Sadad town, as they killed many terrorists, injured others and destroyed their cars loaded with weapons in several areas in Homs province.


An official source told SANA that an army unit hunted terrorists who infiltrated into Sadad town reaching al-Talla neighborhood, killing many terrorists and injuring others, in addition to destroying their weapons.

The source added that members of armed terrorist groups were killed in Jouret al-Shayyah and al-Qarabiss neighborhoods and near Khadija al-Kubra School in al-Qussour neighborhood in Homs.

Another army unit eliminated armed terrorist groups in Mahin and Hawarin villages, the source added.

The source pointed out that army units destroyed cars equipped with heavy machineguns that were transferring terrorists, weapons and ammunition in Sritel hill in Jabal al-Shaer area in Palmyra, while another unit killed members of armed terrorist groups near al-Dar al-Kabira and the surrounding area of al-Rastan city.

Army units eliminate terrorists in Aleppo countryside

Units of the armed forces carried out operations against terrorists' dens and gatherings in Aleppo countryside, killing and injuring many of them.

A military source told SANA that the army units killed and injured many terrorists in the villages and towns of al-Jadyda, Kwaires and Rasm al-Aboud in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.

The source added that the army units also destroyed a number of terrorists' dens, gatherings, mortars, rocket launch-pads and large amount of ammunition.

The source pointed out that other army units destroyed two cars loaded with weapons and ammunition to the north of Deir Hafer and other 3cars on al-Bab-Aleppo road.

Terrorists killed in Idleb

A unit of the armed forces killed all members of an armed terrorist group in the area surrounding Saraqib  city and destroyed a number of cars loaded with weapons and ammunition. 

English Bulletin


(The link to Sana is sometimes blocked by the weapon-selling western authorities)

Syria: Damascus Demands War Reparations

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil

October 22, 2013

Damascus Demands War Reparations: “Countries Which Ruined Syria Must Compensate”: Syrian Deputy PM

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil says countries that have participated in Syria’s crisis must compensate for the destruction they have brought to the Arab country.“We must not forget that Syria is a country rich in resources. Clearly, however, after all this destruction, its own resources are insufficient for reconstruction. Thus, one must mobilize private funds and additional resources, including form of compensation. It is natural that countries that have destroyed Syria must compensate,” Jamil said in an interview with the Russian TV channel Russia Today (RT) on Monday. The Syrian deputy prime minister pointed the finger at Turkey, accusing the country of looting Syria’s industrial hub, Aleppo.

He further noted that corrupt figures who subsequently became representatives of foreign-backed opposition groups will also have to pay for post-conflict reconstruction.

Jamil said that the issue of compensation by the states, which have played a role in the destruction of the Middle Eastern country, will be one of the priority themes at the upcoming Geneva II conference.


Belgium supplied weapons to the Syrian opposition and is  thus partly responsible for the destruction of Syria

Syrian.terrorists.Selim Idriss.verhofstadt.jpg

Photos: Belgian FN MAG machine gun. They are mounted on vehicles in service with the French army and exported to the Middle-East. - Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and leader of the European liberals, pleaded for a military intervention in Libya.  The man has good relations with the weapons and oil industry and is actually pleading for a military intervention in Syria.









Belgium is responsible for terrorism in Syria



Reports said that Syrian 'rebels' have begun receiving weapons from France and Belgium, via Saudi Arabia


Reports on Monday said that Syrian rebels have already begun receiving weapons from various sources, as they attempted to wrest control of the country from the control of President Bashar al-Assad. While a debate is taking place in the U.S., Britain, and other countries about helping the rebels with arms, the reports said that rebels have already gotten advanced weapons with the assistance of Saudi Arabia, Belgium, and France.

According to a report by Reuters Monday, all three countries have been working together to supply the rebels with a variety of weapons for several months. Saudi Arabia delivered missiles to rebel groups, obtaining them from sources in Belgium and France. France, the report said, paid for the missiles.

Photos: Belgian moslim fundamentalist Jejoen Bontinck and a Belgian weapons specialist - Verhofstadt, leader of the European liberals, who pleaded for a military intervention in Libya and is actually pleading for a military intervention in Syria, talking with the so called Syrian opposition.

Latest News Syria: Belgian weapons industry


Syrian.terrorists.Selim Idriss.verhofstadt.jpg


Profit and Proliferation, Part 2: Will Belgian Arms End Up in Syria?

April 6, 2012

In a post yesterday, At War looked at how legal arms sales by Belgium’s main weapons manufacturer, FN Herstal, became a troubling factor in the Libyan conflict over the past year. Now there are concerns about where those weapons may turn up next.

Does Belgium share any responsibility in trying to secure Libya’s arms? That depends on whom you ask, and what you mean by “arms.”

Belgium promised 225,000 euros (about $300,000) to an international program led by the United States that is intended to secure the loose stock of heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles in Libya. These weapons were provided to Libya not by Belgium but by former Eastern bloc states. In 2013, a future phase of this program could focus on securing small arms, which Belgium did supply to Libya. While Belgium doesn’t exclude participating in it, the Walloon government, which is FN Herstal’s sole shareholder, has categorically refused to get involved. Its president, Rudy Demotte, argued that the problem was exclusively Libya’s and that his government did not want to enter a “neocolonial logic.”

But Belgium could be confronted with another problem in terms of small arms. Many Libyans say that Qatar, France, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates provided Libyan rebels with weapons during the recent war. Some of these countries are FN Herstal customers, raising the question of whether Belgian small arms, exported to countries that agreed not to re-export them, were nonetheless re-exported.

On Feb. 26, 2011, the United Nations voted the Resolution 1970, imposing an arms embargo in Libya. Nevertheless, in the spring and summer of 2011, Qatar started shipping military material to the rebels in Benghazi. Some of the weapons shipped by Qatar could well have been FN FAL assault rifles produced in Belgium, according to anti-Qaddafi fighters who received them.

Several fighters said in interviews that their FN FALs were supplied by Qatar. Also, a Libyan operator who worked at the Benina airport in Benghazi in April 2011 said he remembered crates from Qatar full of Belgian FALs. Those particular FALs match the weapons sold by Belgium to the Qatar armed forces. It was impossible to trace serial numbers, however, as this procedure requires a special Interpol request. The Walloon authorities as well as FN Herstal declined to comment.

Belgium’s federal authorities insisted they did not receive any re-export request from Qatar, but also said they have no intention to investigate further.

“The Belgian interpretation of the arms embargo is strict: no weapons were to be supplied,” said Michel Malherbe, a spokesman for the Belgian Foreign Affairs. In this interpretation, if the anti-Qaddafi fighers’ accounts are accurate, then Qatar potentially breached the terms of the U.N. resolution, and Belgium’s refusal to investigate is at odds with the position of one of its neighbors.

Switzerland, upon seeing military material it sold to Qatar in 2009 reappear in Libya in 2011, suspended its arms-export licenses to Qatar from July to December 2011.

The European Common Position on Arms Sales, adopted in 2008, stipulates that the selling country has to assess “the existence of a risk that the equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions.” Qatar, according to the Libyan fighters’ accounts, presents such a risk, as it re-exported military goods to third parties without authorization.

As the fighting continues in Syria, this issue could become more pressing. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister, declared on Feb. 27 that he was favorable to supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels in their fight against Bashar al-Assad. “We have to do what it takes to help them,” he said during an official visit to Norway, “including giving them weapons so that they could defend themselves.”

The same position was adopted by Saudi Arabia. Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, declared that humanitarian help was “not enough” and that arming Syrian rebels was “an excellent idea.” (On the other hand, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton voiced concerns that arming the Syrian opposition could also end up helping Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups get weapons more easily.)

Saudi Arabia is the second-most-important Belgian small-arms customer, behind the United States. This puts Belgian authorities into a difficult position: “The European code and the new Belgian law we tried to install are clear: we cannot export weapons to a country that doesn’t respect non re-export clauses,” said Sophie Paczkowski, spokesperson for the Walloon Region.

On March 9, the Walloon government invited Belgian federal authorities to ask the European Union partners about the Syrian situation. This request was made ahead of the meeting of an European Union Council Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports on April 26. The Walloon region first decided to suspend issuing new arms export licenses for Qatar and Saudi Arabia. On March 20, however, the region reversed its decision. Until the working group’s gathering, Wallonia will adapt its license policy to the decisions of other European Union countries.

Odds are that little will change after the meeting: no formal decisions will be made at this level. “For questions of this nature, it works more like a consultative body,” said Roy Isbister, from the violence watch group Saferworld. “Countries have an opportunity to ask their E.U. partners what they think about a particular issue, but they don’t have to, and anyway any decision is still then taken at the national level. The problem is that the European Common Position allows for multiple interpretations. It is the selling country that has to assess by itself, following its own interpretation of the criteria, including the risk of arms diversion, when it comes to selling military goods.”

The question remaining is: What will the European countries decide on their own national levels? If the arms licenses to Qatar and Saudi Arabia are not suspended, the sector’s regulations will prove to be no more than empty shells. If they are suspended, FN Herstal loses one of its bigger customers, and the whole Belgian weapons industry is endangered. Regarding Belgian and European arms interests, the Arab uprisings look more and more like a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. The Walloon region will not be able to indefinitely shift its responsibilities onto its European neighbors, and will ultimately face a critically tough decision.







Photo: Verhofstadt, leader of the European liberals, pleaded for a military intervention in Libya. He is actually pleading for a military intervention in Syria.