Khatib Meets E.U. Officials as Civil War Spills into Lebanon
Syrian National Coalition President Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib met with European Union leaders, including E.U. Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton on December 10. The European Commission announced that it would provide 30 million euros in humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, bringing its total contribution to 126 million euros. In Germany, four employees of the Syrian embassy were expelled in an effort to reduce German “relations with the Assad regime to an absolute minimum,” according to a statement issued by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Meanwhile, nine Syrian judges defected as the opposition continues to gain momentum.
At least 17 people were killed in Tripoli, Lebanon during clashes between Sunnis and Alawites, a new indication of deepening fault lines stemming from the Syrian civil war. The latest conflict began after a number of Sunni fighters were killed in an ambush by pro-Assad forces as they tried to enter Syria to join opposition fighters. Sunnis in Tripoli, angry over videos that allegedly show the men’s bodies being stabbed and kicked, attacked Alawites, starting days of clashes between militias.
Additionally, the U.N. Special Representative for Syria and the Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi, held talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on December 9. ”All three parties reaffirmed their common assessment that the situation in Syria was bad and getting worse. They stressed that a political process to end the crisis in Syria was necessary and still possible,” said a statement from the Special Representative.
A recent column by Jackson Diehl criticized the Obama Administration for its lack of action in Syria. “Officials seem to have no plan, other than to hope that the scenarios they are thinking about won’t happen,” he wrote. Diehl advocated that, “The most obvious step would be to see to it that the forces the West favors are at least as well armed and equipped as the Alawis and the jihadists.” Instead, he lamented, “The United States is ensuring the opposite, by denying military aid to secular rebels even as Islamist governments arm their favorites.”