Syrian diplomats deemed persona non grata

2012-05-29 17:32

Paris - Governments around the world expelled Syrian ambassadors and diplomats on Tuesday, an unusual, co-ordinated blow to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime following a gruesome massacre that the United Nations said involved close-range shootings of scores of children and parents in their homes.

The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands took action on Tuesday against Syrian diplomats.

Britain's foreign secretary said the countries involved in Tuesday's expulsions would also push for tougher sanctions against Syria.

The move came after the killings Friday in Houla, a collection of farming villages in Syria's Homs province - one of the deadliest single events in a 15-month-old uprising against Assad that has killed thousands.

A UN report Tuesday said 49 children and 34 women were among the 108 people who died, but it did not decisively say who carried out most of the killings.

"This is the most effective way we've got of sending a message of revulsion of what has happened in Syria," Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said in Canberra.

In a statement, he called the Houla killings a "hideous and brutal crime" and said Australia would not engage with the Syrian government unless it abides by a UN cease-fire plan.

Diplomats at the UN, the European Union and the Arab League have been working since the Houla massacre to coordinate new action against Syria's government, French foreign ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero said.

It was not clear whether other countries would join in the expulsions.

Russia however, was not planning to follow the West's example, according to Moscow's ambassador to the European Union.

The country's President Vladimir Putin is traveling to Germany and France this week and is likely to come under even greater pressure to soften his Syria-supportive stance.

"We have to continue our work with the Russians," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

"We will continue to discuss this with Russia. Russia has particular leverage on the regime and therefore has a particular role in this crisis."

Hague said that the situation in Syria is more complicated than what international powers faced in Libya last year, when the United Nations approved intervention against dictator Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

Not backing down

The US state department said Tuesday that the charge d'affaires at the Syrian Embassy has been given 72 hours to leave the United States.

Syria has not had an ambassador in the United States since the previous envoy left last year to take another post.

State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the US holds "the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives".

Britain is expelling three Syrian diplomats to protest the Houla killings, among them Charge d'Affaires Ghassan Dalla - the country's top ranking diplomat in London.

In Canada, Foreign Minister John Baird said all Syrian diplomats and their families have five days to leave. Another Syrian diplomat expected in Canada will be refused entry.

In France, Syria's former colonial ruler, new President Francois Hollande showed that he is not backing down from his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy's tough line on Syria.

Ambassador Lamia Shakkour was notified on Tuesday that she is persona non grata, along with two other embassy officials, the French Foreign Ministry said. Hollande said Shakkour is being expelled but that the timing is complicated by her dual status as Syria's ambassador to Paris-based Unesco.

Hollande said that after high-level discussions with British Prime Minister David Cameron and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it had been decided to deploy "a certain number of... pressure tactics", against Syria, including the expulsion of the ambassador.

Germany on Tuesday announced Syria's ambassador, Radwan Loutfi, had 72 hours to leave. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Germany and its allies hope "that this unambiguous message does not fall on deaf ears in Damascus".

"The Syrian regime bears responsibility for the terrible events in Houla," Westerwelle said in a statement. Westerwelle said Germany will push for the UN Security Council to consider the situation in Syria again.

"It has been clear not just since Houla that Syria has no future under Assad," Westerwelle said. "He must clear the way for peaceful change in Syria."

Heinous acts

The Italian Foreign Ministry said Ambassador Khaddour Hassan was summoned and informed that he must leave. Spain said it was giving Syrian Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala and four other diplomats based in Madrid three days to leave the country.

Baird said these "Syrian representatives are not welcome in our countries while their masters in Damascus continue to perpetrate their heinous and murderous acts".

Australia gave Syrian Charge d'Affaires Jawdat Ali, the most senior Syrian diplomat in Australia, and another diplomat from the Syrian Embassy, 72 hours to leave the country.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal declared the Syrian ambassador to his country "persona non grata".

''It is no longer possible to work with a country with such a president," Rosenthal said on the ministry's official Twitter feed.

In Vienna, foreign ministry spokesperson Nikolaus Lutterotti said the Syrian ambassador is being summoned to the ministry where officials will deliver a very hard protest about the massacre.

When asked if the expulsions were EU-wide, Lutterotti said this had not yet been decided.

He said the ambassador to Austria would not be expelled as he holds an additional function as the representative to the UN organisations in Vienna.

There was no public Syrian reaction to the coordinated expulsions. Phone calls to Syria's embassy in Paris were not answered, and an official at the Syrian delegation to Unesco refused to comment.

The UN estimates 9 000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011.

Hollande said Tuesday that Paris will host a meeting in early July of the so-called Friends of Syria seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The ambassador's expulsion came amid increasing diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria and put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The United States, Britain and France are among countries that have closed their embassies in Syria since the crackdown on protesters began last year.

  • Squeegee - 2012-05-29 17:39

    Kick them off the planet!

  • dave.leverton - 2012-05-29 17:54

    And what about the Syrian Embassy in South Africa ? Let me guess......

      Squeegee - 2012-05-29 18:05

      Sorry Dave, no one to do anything, all of them are marching against a painting.

  • jookco - 2012-05-29 18:05

    FBI joins investigation into Kenyan bomb blast,

  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-29 18:24

    @ Dave Leverton, Birds of a feather Flock together... the cANCer are very cozy with the likes of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Zim and other oppressive and muderous regimes...

      Fidel - 2012-05-30 13:02

      You have forgot to include the US and the coalition of the killing in your least of murderous regimes.

  • jookco - 2012-05-29 18:30

    FBI joins investigation into Kenyan bomb blast,

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-05-29 18:34

    EVERYBODY now accepts that to stop this madness, this assad family must get out of Syria, and NEVER to return. And it seems , the USA and Russia are discussing this way out, as foreign intervention has now become a real possibility, which would be highly dangerous ! In an analysis in the Financial Times by Gideon Rachman, he suggest that Russia might go along with the plan to oust the assad family. But they would need eplicit guarantees, by the US and the opposition in Syria, that its security interests would be respected. ( read here; a continuation of Russian military basis in Syria ) He also claims that the assad family is simply the figurehead for a network of military, ethnic, party and business interests, that is profoundly threatened by the Syrian uprising. For this reason a negotiated transition would have to involve members of the existing administration, before the holding of elections. His article heading; DISTATEFUL SYRIAN SOLUTION IS ALSO THE BEST ONE. Gideon Rachman might just be right !!!

      danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-29 20:22

      Patrick, Lets try again. Birds of a feather Flock together... the ANC are very cozy with the likes of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Zim and other oppressive and muderous regimes... Now, I hope this makes you feel better. Now, please explain why you accept that your government sympathizes with regimes that oppress and murder their citizens. Looking forward to your reply.

      Fidel - 2012-05-30 13:07

      If you think that western powers do not sympathise and "support" regimes that murder their citizens, you were sadly deluded. Look at the STAN countries and the decadent Gulf Monarchies. I always maintain that history is a good teacher, study history and see who the real collaborators have always been. Watch what they do and not what they say!

  • Vic - 2012-05-29 18:38

    Unless Zuma's chommies, the Russians and Chinese follow suit, not a great deal of progress will be made, and the slaughter will continue under Assad's regime. has to be a united front.

  • Bruce - 2012-05-29 19:40

    Why does News 24 only report one side of the story, often siding bias western media, read the article on RT for a more reliable and un-bias point of view.

      danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-29 20:46

      OK Bruce, I have read the article of this "unbiased" view. Forgive me, but it is a load of nonsense. Ther eis filmed evidence of Syrian army units using artillery, war planes and tanks to kill their citizens in the past year. Now they are trying to portray a single incident as not being the fault of the Syrian Govt because it looks different? REally? Well, even if it is a "third wors" (I mean a third force, sorry, could not resist it) then we can say that the Syrian Govt has murdered only 9912 (that is Nine Thousand, nine hundred and 12) of their citizens. Does that make it right? Perhaps you can explain to all of us why does the Syrian govt find it necessary and justified to kill their people in the first place? FYI, by now more Syrians have died at the hands of their govt than the amount of SYRIAN SOLDIERS that were ever killed in wars with Israel. and yet, even the Israeli govt has found it propper to voice their disgust at the massacre takig place. Israeli citizens have staged rallies insolidarity with the Syrian people. Unfortunately no one in SA, gobt or citizens have protested in any way whatsoever. Now, you were saying?

      Fidel - 2012-05-30 13:23

      As Naom Chomsky says, it is not the purpose of the mainstream media to question state propaganda. That task has fallen to the Internet.

  • Fhedzani Sadiki - 2012-05-29 20:05

    Why does everything turn into a RACE issue?

      danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-29 20:19

      Fhedzani, just a few days ago there was a great article posted by a reader. In this country as soon as one criticizes a black person he is labelled a racist. It is the easiest way to avoid having to debate issues with reason. Off course, there is also the option of blaiming Apartheid, like the minister of police did today. claiming that the reason the SAPS is in a shambles is because of Apartheid. (It has not occured to him that it may have something to do with appointing people for political reasons and shielding as long as possible them even when it is clear to all that they are criminals, as is the case with the last 2 police commisioners)

  • Luyolo - 2012-05-29 21:57

    With Syria having less influence on the region it paves a clear and less hostile path towards Iran.We all want to help Syrian people but I don't see why we should side with the US and it's NATO allies who have been attacking Muslim countries over this past decade.why would the US suddenly cared about Syrian people when it has been murdering their neighbors in the past 10 years.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-30 02:41

      Luyolo, you really should educate yourself more. Did you miss 9/11? Al-Quaida declared and waged war against the US and freer world, which resulted in this awful event that saw the deaths of people from 90 countries around the world. It was only after this event that the US and Nato took military action in Afghanistan, to root out Al-Quaida who had infiltrated the country after the Soviet Union was defeated there in the 1980's. It is Al-Quaida and its ally the Taliban who have killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, mainly Muslims, with their car bombs and suicide attacks. Are you not aware of this? The US and Nato go to great lengths to avoid harm to civilians. When harm occurs, they rightly treat it as a grave event and launch a full-scale investigation to improve themselves. If you truly want to help the Syrians being butchered by a cold tyrant, you should support the strongest forces for good in the world, the ones that practice human rights and individual freedoms. This is the freer world.

      Luyolo - 2012-05-30 06:14

      I am well educated on that one. Al Qaeda is a wing of the CIA. Hillary Clinton herself said this that Al Qaeda has now moved into Syria and gues what they are now calling for the removal of Asaad. Which means the West and Al Qeada are now holding hands together on this Syrian issue. It is also well documented that some of the Al Qaeda people were into Libya to overthrow Gaddafi. Al Qaeda is just a part of a western excuse for military regime changes which are a part of the West/NWO agenda

      Luyolo - 2012-05-30 06:22

      Can you list these strong forces for Good please.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-05-30 07:10

      Luyolo, It is sad that you are not underrstanding what is happenning in North Africa and the ME. You blind yourself to reality , by believing this has anything to do with foreign influence. As a matter of fact, if Europe could have avoided these uprisings, they certainly would have. Take Libya; This prostitute gaddafi was only to willing to sleep with anybody, who was prepared to pay him. Life was good !! gaddafi was playing king in Africa, his sons were ripping the Europeans of billions of euros and living the billionaire life styles in Paris, London and New York. And the Europeans were happy to deal wit a "stable government" without having this inconvenience, of having 'silly' elections every few years and therefore having to continious deal with new people. The only problem was; the Libyan people were not happy ! They were sick and tired of this violent and ever so corrupt gaddafi family. For forty years, every uprising was brutaly squased by the gaddafi regime. But in January 2011, it was different. The culture of fear had dissapeared, and this time, to the surprise of gaddafi AND the West, there was going to be no turning back. Once the backbone of a dictatorship , FEAR, is gone, that illegitimate regime is finished. WE seen that in Tunesia, than Egypt, than Libya, and now in Syria. It is not complicated. You must just take those silly childish anti Western blinkers of, and you will see what's happening !!!

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