Efforts to negotiate a new, scaled-down version of the arms embargo against Syria have failed today, according to European Union officials, meaning that the whole of the embargo will expire as scheduled on Saturday.
The question centered around efforts, spearheaded by British and French officials, to change the embargo to only apply to government forces, allowing EU member nations to arm the rebels with impunity. Austria had spearheaded the opposition to the change, fearing it would endanger their troops currently deployed in southern Syria as part of the UN ceasefire monitors mission. Others had sought a middle-ground that would satisfy both.
British officials touted the lack of a deal as a victory, saying it was “the outcome we wanted,” while Austria complained that France and Britain had been too unwilling to compromise and forced the existing pact to simply expire.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton insisted the expiration of the deal didn’t mean there would be immediate arms shipments to Syria’s rebels. British Foreign Secretary William Hague also insisted there were no specific plans to start arming the rebels right away, but added that “all options remain on the table.”