SA slams West’s ‘dangerous rhetoric’ on military action in Syria

The government on Thursday hit out at what it called "dangerous rhetoric", pointing to Western military action in Syria. The G20 member said it "is alarmed at the latest escalation" in the Syria conflict and condemned "the use of chemical weapons".

"South Africa is concerned by the dangerous rhetoric pointing to the possibility of a military intervention," the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The statement came as the US and its allies press for military action against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's regime, despite stern warnings against intervention from key Damascus supporters Russia and Iran. And Britain has pushed for a resolution to pave the way for military strikes.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said London is presenting a resolution "condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad" to a meeting of the United Nations Security Council's five permanent members, which got under way in New York on Wednesday morning.

South Africa, the continent's largest economy, has largely opposed non-UN Western military intervention since becoming a fully democratic state in 1994.

Pretoria said it did "not believe that bombing the already suffering people and crumbling infrastructure of Syria, will contribute to a sustainable solution".

"The outcome of such an action is unpredictable and will only worsen the conflict … It will ultimately be the people of Syria who pay the price, whilst those participating in the military intervention will return to safety far away from the crisis."

Ongoing investigations
South Africa has long sought a seat on the UN Security Council, but has irked western powers with its stance on Zimbabwe and Libya – where it backed authoritarian rulers' bids to remain in power.

In recent years South Africa has moved to deepen ties with China and Russia, long-time supporters of the ANC during the anti-apartheid struggle.

Meanwhile, UN inspectors – in Syria to determine whether forces have used chemical weapons in the civil war – will continue their investigations until Friday and plans to leave by Saturday morning, the UN chief said.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Vienna, said he had spoken to US President Barack Obama on Wednesday about the situation in Syria, discussing how "we can expedite the process of investigation".

"I have also expressed [my] sincere wish that this investigation team should be allowed to continue their work as mandated by the member states," Ban told reporters on Thursday.

"I told him that we will … share information and our analysis of samples and evidence with members of the Security Council and United Nations members in general," he said.

UN chemical weapons experts began a third day of investigations into an apparent poison gas attack last week which killed hundreds of civilians, visiting rebel-held territory outside Damascus.

"They [the inspection team] will continue investigation activities until tomorrow, Friday, and will come out of Syria by Saturday morning and will report to me," Ban said. – AFP; Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Guest Author

Related stories

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

Patel: South Africa on target to attract R1.2-trillion in investments

The trade minister says the country is on track to reach more than R1-trillion worth of investments over five years, despite Covid-19 disruptions

War and Covid slow trade in Saluki dogs

Salukis, cousins of the greyhound, have been used for hunting for thousands of years in the Middle East and are some of the fastest canines.

South Africa must revisit and refresh its idea of itself

Covid has propelled citizens into feelings of a new shared identity in which the historical force of ‘whiteness’ is fading into irrelevance

Institutions of higher learning should commemorate their casualties

The bust of Matikweni Nkuna at Tshwane University of Technology is an example of how we should honour those who fought for equal access to education

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — that may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast.

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

See people as individual humans, not as a race

We need to ingrain values of equality in education, businesses, society broadly and religious groups to see people

JJ Rawlings left an indelible mark on Ghana’s history

The air force pilot and former president used extreme measures, including a coup, enforced ‘discipline’ through executions, ‘disappearances’ and floggings, but reintroduced democracy

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…