Gilmore opposed to US military action on Syria

Thu, Mar 8, 2012, 00:00

FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE:GOVERNMENT MINISTERS visiting the US for St Patrick’s Day should encourage president Barack Obama to ignore calls for military intervention in Syria, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore told the foreign affairs and trade committee it was regrettable that the UN Security Council had so far failed to agree a resolution on the situation.

Mr Gilmore said there was an obligation on the international community to do all it could to end the violence and suffering of the Syrian people.

“All right-thinking people will have been outraged by the images of helpless civilian populations being bombarded and massacred by state security forces,” he said.

“I detect no appetite anywhere for any form of external intervention. This also extends to any idea of arming those now opposed to the Syrian regime,” he said.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghaíl said he believed the committee was united in its “grave concern about soundings emanating from the United States on the possibility of military intervention”.

He was referring to US senator John McCain’s call for air strikes on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“Could we just ask that . . . those members of Government travelling to the US will continue to encourage president Obama to stick with his current approach to the Syrian situation? The last thing I think we need is military intervention of that sort,” Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.

In response to a question from Labour TD Jed Nash, Mr Gilmore said there were between 100 and 200 Irish citizens in Syria, and the Irish Embassy in Cairo was in touch with the EU delegations in Damascus to provide consular assistance if required.

“I have taken the view on behalf of this country that we do not want to see military intervention in Syria for a number of reasons,” Mr Gilmore said.

He warned that the worst-case scenario would be for Syria to slip into an open civil war, “which would be profoundly destabilising for the entire region”.