SA condemns chemical warfare
Peaceful, political solution to the seven-year Syrian war is what leaders call for globally, with US-led air attacks being widely denounced
THE South African government has joined a chorus of leaders globally calling for a peaceful, political solution to the seven-year war in Syria, while also condemning the use of chemical weapons.
This comes following calls by EU foreign ministers who have come out backing efforts to stop the use of chemical weapons while also calling for renewed efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.
South Africa has condemned US-led air strikes in Syria saying the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria does not justify military air-strikes on a sovereign state.
This comes after military air strikes following a suspected chemical weapon attack by the Syrian government in the rebel stronghold of Douma recently.
South Africa’s reaction comes hot on the heels of missile air-strikes in Syria over the weekend by the US, Britain and France accusing the state of using chemical weapons against its own people.
It is a charge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has strongly denied in the past.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has issued a statement calling for a nonmilitary solution to the seven-year Syrian conflict.
“From the onset, when the Syrian crisis broke out, South Africa has consistently and constantly called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We remain steadfast in our principled position that the issue should be resolved in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN Security Council, (UNSC)” Dirco said.
South Africa says it condemns the use of chemical weapons by any party in Syria.
“We urge all members of the UNSC to shoulder their UN Charter mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security and double all efforts towards a peaceful non-military solution that respects and guarantees the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria,” Dirco said yesterday.
The military air-strikes drew strong reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin a long-time ally of alAssad.
The 28 ministers condemned the military offensive, backed by Russia, that the Syrian government is waging against rebels and called for an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid.
In a statement after talks in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers unequivocally blamed al-Assad’s regime for the Douma attack and gave implicit backing to Saturday’s military action.
The ministers discussed ways to apply pressure to get Russia to drag the al-Assad government to meaningful negotiations on the country’s future.
“Whether you like it or not – without Russia you won’t be able to solve this conflict,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said as he arrived for yesterday’s talks.
Washington has said it will impose new sanctions on Russia over the Douma attack, targeting companies that supplied Syria with equipment related to chemical weapons, but the EU is not yet ready to follow suit.
An EU diplomat said it would be possible to add Russians or Iranians to the Syrian sanctions list but the idea is not yet being discussed at the level of foreign ministers.
Some European governments are wary of provoking an angry response from Russia, which among other things remains a key supplier of gas to the EU.
Next week, the EU hosts a major conference in Brussels on the future of Syria aimed at gathering financial pledges for humanitarian aid and boosting a floundering UNled peace process.
The war has already claimed the lives of at least 350 000 people. – with AFP
NO WAR: A man argues with anti-war protesters as they march to protest the US, UK and French strikes on Syria early Saturday.