Moments ago, the British foreign secretary William Hague tweeted that the arms embargo to the Syrian rebels has officially ended:
Right EU decision tonight. Arms embargo on Syrian opposition ended. No immediate decision to send arms. Other sanctions remain— William Hague (@WilliamJHague) May 27, 2013
Britain and France had pushed for the ban on supplying the opposition forces fighting Bashar al Assad's regime to be lifted and the failure of ministers to agree an extension to the embargo during 12 hours of talks means it will now end on June 1.
Mr Hague said after the meeting Monday that the decision "sends a very strong message from Europe to the Assad regime".
Sky's foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said the decision would make little difference in the short-term.
"Already there are many sides arming the two sides that are fighting. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are pouring arms into the opposition," he said.
"What it means though, firstly, is that the idea of the united European foreign policy has bitten the dust.
"I suspect at some point, the British and the French will go ahead and try to arm some of the many, many group there are in opposition in Syria."
Diplomats said there had been an agreement that EU governments would refrain from sending an arms to Syria for now.
Financial and economic sanctions against the Assad government were extended for another year at the meeting.
Several of the 27 EU nations were reticent about more weapons being sent into a conflict zone that has already seen the deaths of nearly 100,000 people.
Others were not at all reticent about aiding and abbetting the murder of countless more by Qatari mercenaries.
The irony is that as has been known for a long time, and as the FT itself reported ten days ago, the Syrian "rebels" who actually have been Qatari mercenaries, have been receiving weapons shipments for years from the wealthy Persian Gulf country, with the implicit knowledge of both Europe and the US.
So why the rush by France and Britain to allow weapons armaments to resume by official channels, even if it means even more weaponization of the Assad regime by Russia and China, more bloodshed, and more death?
Simple: natural gas.
Recall that as we explained a week ago the whole point of the Syrian escalation is to provide a land route for Qatari natural gas pipelines to enter Turkey, and from there to proceed into Europe.
So there you have it: Qatar doing everything it can to promote bloodshed, death and destruction by using not Syrian rebels, but mercenaries: professional citizens who are paid handsomely to fight and kill members of the elected regime (unpopular as it may be), for what? So that the unimaginably rich emirs of Qatar can get even richer. Although it is not as if Russia is blameless: all it wants is to preserve its own strategic leverage over Europe by being the biggest external provider of natgas to the continent through its own pipelines. Should Nabucco come into existence, Gazpromia would be very, very angry and make far less money!
For this to happen, Syria would have to be controlled by pro-Western forces: most probably some spin off of the "Muslim Brotherhood" paradigm last seen in the western takeover of the strategically critical Suez Canal, and the far less important country surrounding it.
Needless to say, such optically noble considerations as the people's "liberation" or "ushering a new age of democracy" are not only irrelevant but completely meaningless and hypocritical in the scramble for European energy independence from Russia. But they sure make for great front page headlines.
In the meantime, here are the facts:
The origin of EU-27 energy imports has changed somewhat in recent years, as Russia has maintained its position as the main supplier of crude oil and natural gas and emerged as the leading supplier of hard coal (see Table 3). In 2010, some 34.5 % of the EU-27’s imports of crude oil were from Russia; this was the highest share recorded between 2002 and 2010 having fallen to a temporary low of 31.4 % in 2008.
The security of the EU’s primary energy supplies may be threatened if a high proportion of imports are concentrated among relatively few partners. Close to three quarters (74.4 %) of the EU-27’s imports of natural gas in 2010 came from Russia, Norway or Algeria – as such there was a diversification of imports as in 2009 the same three countries accounted for 79.2 % of natural gas imports. A similar analysis shows that 58.5 % of EU-27 crude oil imports came from Russia, Norway and Libya, while 64.3 % of hard coal imports were from Russia, Colombia and the United States. Although their import volumes remain relatively small, there was some evidence of new partner countries emerging between 2002 and 2010. This was notably the case for crude oil imports from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, or natural gas imports from Qatar and Libya.
In short: the great chess game involving the isolation of Russian natgas export dominance to its key trading "partner", Europe, goes on.
How Gazpromia Russia responds next - as the threat that it may no longer be the monopoly supplier of marginal nat gas to an energy-starved Europe becomes increasingly more palpable - is all that matters.