NORWAY — Norway recognizes Assad’s right to use armed force against rebels in Syria, and does not see the opposition as representatives of the Syrian people.
‘Norway recognizes Syria as a sovereign state of course, and from the Norwegian perspective, we have consistently said that it is the Assad regime that represents the state of Syria to the world community in terms of international law’, said Marit Berger Røsland at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.
Norway also recognizes the Assad regime’s right to use armed force against armed insurgents.
‘The international law principles that relate to general rules regarding the use of military force, including those of the UN Charter, have not been impeached’, said Røsland.
‘Our criticisms of the Assad regime are linked to the numerous reports we have received of widespread and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including from the UN commission in Syria’, she said.
It caused a stir when the coalition government, and the then Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide of the Arbeiderpartiet (Ap) recognized the Syrian opposition alliance, National Coalition, as the ‘legitimate representatives of the Syrian people’ in 2012.
International Law lawyer, Cecilie Hellestveit, was among those who was highly surprised, and pointed out that Norway therefore would have to recognize the armed opposition that fought against a regime who we also recognized.
‘This was a clear intervention in a sovereign state’s internal affairs, one that showed disregard of the UN Charter, and was an open invitation to other countries to take their place as they wished’, believed Hellestveit, who drew parallels to Russia’s support for rebels in the Ukraine.
The Syrian National Coalition unravelled after a short time, and the war in Syria is now in its seventh year. Attempts to assemble the countless rebel and opposition groups into a united front against the Assad regime have proved fruitless.
The State Secretary, Marit Berger Røsland, emphasized that the Norwegian government has never formally recognized the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, even though it is widely believed that they have.
‘When the then Norwegian government gave support to the Syrian National Coalition in 2012, it was expressed that Norway judged the National Coalition as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. At the same time it was made clear that this did not involve any recognition in terms of international law’, she said.
Although Norway acknowledges that Assad is Syria’s head of state, and stresses that the Syrian rebels who receive Norwegian training and support in Jordan should only fight the Islamic State and not the Assad regime, Røsland still believes that the Syrian president must go.
‘Norway has long believed that there will be no lasting peace so long as Assad as president, and that the conflict must be resolved through a political process’, said Røsland.
She referred in part to unspecified reports that the Assad regime and its allies had been behind a large number of direct attacks against their own people, hospital, medical personnel, aid workers and of having committed a number of other actions that could be regarded as crimes.
Originally published at: Norway Today