President Obama met with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday in advance of Monday’s G8 summit. The 8 leaders meeting in Northern Ireland, will likely focus in a big way on the Syria crisis.
Obama’s recent decision to become more active in Syria, at least sending light weaponry to the rebels, will have a mixed reception, perhaps an explosively mixed one.
Russia, of course, is strongly backing the ruling Baath regime and has strenuously objected to Obama’s announcement. In essence, the two superpowers are back to a Cold War footing over Syria.
In the recent discussions at the European Union, Italy and Germany opposed lifting an arms embargo on Syria. That is, those two countries did not want Europeans sending arms to either side. Because the ban had a sunset clause and because the EU could not come to a consensus, the embargo was effectively lifted.
Japan is unlikely to join in sending weapons, given its pacifist constitution, but it is somewhat stepping up its humanitarian aid to the rebels and to Jordan and Lebanon, hosts of large Syrian refugee populations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a man of the right and is unlikely to oppose Obama’s plan, but he will likely be constrained constitutionally and by domestic public opinion from getting too involved in Syria.
The US can expect active support from the other three members, the UK, France and
Canada, who may well join in the effort of better arming the rebels.
As for the trial balloon floated by an Obama official as to a ‘no-fly zone,’ that step is likely to be rejected at the G8. France insists that the use of force be authorized by the UN Security Council. Everyone knows that there will be no such UNSC resolution because of the Russian and Chinese veto.
So, fierce opposition from Vladimir Putin, and just plain opposition from Angela Merkel and Enrico Letta. Neutrality from Japan. And support for small arms exports to the rebels but little more from France. Likely the UK and Canada will support whatever Obama decides to do.
Thus, the world’s wealthiest nations, excluding China, will likely split down the middle on Obama’s plan, with Russia seeing it as virtually an act of enmity.
There is some thinking of expanding the G8 to include, e.g., China and Brazil among others. Note that both of these countries are dead set against Western intervention in Syria. The US, with its hawkish ways, is increasingly isolated