With the G20 meeting in St Petersburg this weekend, reform of international tax law is going to be taking a back seat in the media’s eyes to the divisions over possible US intervention in Syria.
Here’s a look at how the twenty members, plus permanent observers Spain, are positioned on the issue.
In Favour Of Intervention: 10
The United States of America
President Barack Obama said that the use of Chemical weapons in Syria constituted a “red line” which America would not ignore and would intervene militarily if proved to be true. He has subsequently asked Congress to back his plans for a time-limited strike.
France is in the unusual position of being America’s most steadfast and war-ready ally, stating for a fortnight now that it is prepared and willing to intervene in Syria, despite the unpopularity of this position held by President Hollande with the French people.
Predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia is conducting a proxy war in Syria and Iraq with predominantly Shia Iran in what threatens to be a sectarian conflict which could devour the entire region. They have backed any US strike against Syria.
Canada supports the US position and is in favour of strikes from a moral standpoint, but will not lend any material military assistance.
President Obama announced late on Thursday that Japanese Prime Minister Shunsuke Abe agreed with his assessment that the use of chemical weapons in Syria represented a gross violation of international law that needed to be addressed. Japan had previously kept quiet, and the extent to which it will militarily support the United States is likely to be limited.
Turkey, as one of Syria’s neighbours and the most powerful country directly affected by spill-over is not only in favour of US action against Syria, but is frustrated by the limited scale of any potential strike proposed by the United States. Turkey has nearly half a million Syrian refugees and will support any attack including with military assistance.
South Korea supports international sanctions against Syria, not least because it is concerned about previous weapons and hardware trading links between Syria and North Korea and is concerned that chemical weapons could be traded to the Korean Peninsula.
Indonesia considers the use of chemical weapons a crime against humanity and thinks that the international community must make sure that the perpetrators of “such humane acts” are “punished accordingly”
The United Kingdom
The British Parliament has voted against any British military intervention in Syria, which is politically awkward for Prime Minister David Cameron who nevertheless supports the US position and feels strongly that action needs to be taken.
Australia backs US military action, but won’t take part in any strikes itself. It believes that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its open people, and that this action warrants a response.
Unclear on Intervention: 3
As a consequence of the burden of its history, Germany will not intervene militarily in any conflict, but is prepared to provide humanitarian aid and political support. Germany favours a UN solution to the problem but considers this prospect unlikely. As Germany is in the middle of an election period, politicians have been noncommittal as to whether Germany supports US action.
Officially, Spain is waiting for “full knowledge” of the situation to emerge from the UN inspectors work, but given Spain’s support for the US-led War in Iraq it is likely that in the event of conflict, Spain will side in favour of intervention.
Mexico has condemned the violence in Syria, but remained non-committal on whether it supports US intervention.
Against Intervention: 8
Historically India has strong cultural ties with Syria, and has cautioned against military intervention and will wait for the result of UN inspectors’ reports before deciding on who is culpable for the recent attacks.
The Assad regime in Syria is one of Russia’s firmest allies, representing a reliable trading partner that purchases a sizeable number of Russian military exports. Russia also has a naval base in Syria which is hugely strategically important as it is Russia’s only foreign military base remaining outside the former Soviet Union. It will not support a strike in any circumstance.
The European Union
While not a state, the EU has declared its preference for a UN solution to the Syrian crisis. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has gone as far as to say that “there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict”.
Italy will only support military action if it is endorsed by the United Nations and has urged the international community to find a negotiated solution to the crisis.
Regional powerhouse South Africa have echoed the sentiments of most African countries by speaking out strongly against any US Military intervention. They have deep ties with China and President Jacob Zuma feels that a “regime change agenda through outside military intervention undermines any hope of [a] sustainable all-inclusive political solution”.
Brazil, as a developing nation, has adopted the Chinese stance of non-intervention in other countries affairs, and is opposed to intervention in Syria.
Argentina has officially condemned the United States and the West and says that any intervention could aggravate the domestic situation in Syria. They have called for a UN-led humanitarian intervention without a military arm.
China has an official policy of non-intervention into other countries domestic affairs; as it has long desired that other countries respect its right to resolve what it deigns as internal affairs such as the Taiwanese and Tibetan issues.