The expulsion of Syrian diplomats

Parliament house flag post

The expulsion of Syrian diplomats

Posted 30/05/2012 by Marty Harris

Image source: Voice of America
On 29 May 2012 the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, announced that the highest ranking Syrian diplomat in Australia, Chargé d'Affaires Jawdat Ali, was being expelled from the country in response to recent atrocities in Syria. Ali and one other Syrian diplomat were given 72 hours to leave Australia.

There has been no Syrian Ambassador to Australia since Tammam Sulaiman left Australia in October 2010. It has been suggested that the Australian Government has been delaying the processing of the credentials of the prospective new Ambassador, Mohammed Khaddour, in response to the manner in which the Syrian authorities have responded to protests.

Coordinated international effort

Within hours of Senator Carr’s announcement, the governments of the US, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Switzerland and the Netherlands all declared some Syrian diplomats in their countries to be ‘persona non grata’. In all cases, the highest-ranking in-country diplomat was expelled.

The expulsion of diplomats is made under Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), which states:
The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable.
Each government has made it clear that the move resulted from the massacre on 25 May in the village of Taldou, near Houla in Syria’s Homs Governorate, in which at least 108 people were killed, including 49 children and 34 women.

Attributing blame for the massacre

The opposition Syrian National Council, along with some human rights groups and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, have blamed regime forces for the killings. The US Government has done likewise, specifically accusing pro-regime militias of perpetrating the massacre:
We took this action in response to the massacre in the village of Houla – absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre against innocent children, women, shot at point-blank range by regime thugs, the shabiha, aided and abetted by the Iranians, who were actually bragging about it over the weekend.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said similarly that ‘the Syrian regime bears the responsibility for the horrifying events in Houla.’

Russia, the Syrian regime’s most consistent supporter to date, stated that both pro-government forces and rebels were responsible for the killings:
Both sides have obviously had a hand in the deaths of innocent people, including several dozen women and children. This area is controlled by the rebels, but it is also surrounded by the government troops.
Despite this, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has used some uncharacteristically strong language towards Syria, arguing that the Government ‘bears the main responsibility for what is going on’. Russia also allowed the issuing of a United Nations Security Council ‘press statement’ condemning the massacre. The statement also
...demanded that the Government of Syria immediately cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and immediately pull back its troops and its heavy weapons from in and around population centres and return them to their barracks.
Some have suggested that this incident might signal a change in Russia’s position on the Syrian uprising, allowing for stronger action by the United Nations Security Council.

Recent diplomatic expulsions by the Australian Government

The last time a diplomat was expelled from Australia was in May 2010 when an unnamed Israeli diplomat was expelled over the alleged misuse of Australian passports in the assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai in January 2010.

Prior to that, in March 2003, Australia expelled an Iraqi diplomat, Helal Ibrahim Aaref, with the then Foreign Minister Downer saying that the Government had ‘real security concerns’ about this person in particular. Later that month all Iraqi diplomatic staff were expelled from Australia. Mr Downer argued at the time that ‘this course of action is clearly a logical and prudent step in a situation where Australia is engaged in military action against Iraq’.

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




immigration refugees elections taxation asylum Parliament criminal law election results Australian Bureau of Statistics social security disability citizenship Indigenous Australians political parties United Kingdom UK Parliament Census statistics banking early childhood education Middle East Australian foreign policy OECD Australian Electoral Commission voting mental health Employment military history by-election election timetable China; Economic policy; Southeast Asia; Africa housing Speaker; House of Representatives; Parliament Productivity Defence income management asylum seekers High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title Senate ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories leadership aid Papua New Guinea emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding Electoral reform politics refugees immigration asylum Canada procurement Australian Public Service firearms Indigenous health constitution High Court e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament women 2015 International Women's Day public policy ABS Population Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade skilled migration Private health insurance Medicare Financial sector EU national security fuel China soft power education violence against women domestic violence Fiji India Disability Support Pension disability employment welfare reform Tasmania Antarctica China Diplomacy Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency Sport ASADA Federal Court WADA ADRV by-elections state and territories terrorism terrorist groups Bills corruption anti-corruption integrity fraud bribery transparency corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform science innovation research and development transport standards Afghanistan Australian Defence Force NATO United States social media Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism higher education Higher Education Loan Program HECS welfare policy pensions social services welfare ASIO Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Australian Secret Intelligence Service intelligence community Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 sexual abuse online grooming sexual assault of minors labour force workers

Show all
Show less
Back to top