Brazil Removes Diplomats from Syria

By Lucy Jordan, Contributing Reporter

BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Foreign Ministry on Friday removed nearly all its diplomats from the Brazilian embassy in Syria because of heavy fighting in Damascus. Itamaraty (the Brazilian Foreign Ministry) said in a statement diplomats were moved to Beirut, Lebanon, due to the “deteriorating security situation.”

Brazilian Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, says 3,000 Brazilians living in Syria want to remain because they have dual nationality, Brazil News

Brazilian Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, says 3,000 Brazilians living in Syria want to remain because they have dual nationality, photo by Antonio Cruz/ABr.

Fighting reached the capital and Syria’s major city, historic Aleppo, earlier this month. Now Brazilian ambassador Edgard Casciano said things were so bad in Damascus that, “You simply cannot step outside there is so much shooting going on. It is a very problematic situation,” he declared.

“Helicopters are flying overhead all the time and there are big explosions caused by heavy weaponry.”

A spokesperson for Itamaraty said Brazil was monitoring the situation and would take action to remove the roughly 3,000 Brazilians citizens in Syria if necessary.

The national press agency reported that Brazilian Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, said the Brazilians living in Syria want to remain because they have dual nationality. At least one member of embassy staff remains to assist them a statement added.

Before the departure of its staff, the Brazilian embassy reported a significant increase in the number of visas issued to Syrians wishing to leave for Brazil. In the six months of this year up to July 17th, 395 visas were issued, compared to 448 for all 2011.

Although Abdel Basset Sayda, leader of the opposition coalition in Syria, told Folha he found Brazil’s actions encouraging, an Itamaraty official maintained the withdrawal of Brazil’s diplomats would not affect diplomatic relations with Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Rousseff and Ambassador of Syria, Mohammed Ali Khaddour during a recent ceremony at the Foreign Ministry, Brazil News

Rousseff and Ambassador of Syria, Mohammed Ali Khaddour during a recent ceremony at the Foreign Ministry, photo by Antonio Cruz/ABr.

“The removal was decided solely on concerns of security, there are no political signs to be read,” he said.

Brazil has refused to condemn the Syrian government throughout the bloody conflict during which, according to the Syrian Revolution Martyr Database, 21,369 people had died as of Monday, 19,779 of whom were civilians.

Brazil took a similar position during the Libyan uprising, when its abstention from voting on the U.N. Security Council resolution that helped topple Muammar el-Qaddafi earned it disapproval from the international community.

In Libya, Brazil was not only defending the interests of Brazilian contractors and companies like Petrobras, but also adhering to a long-term policy on non-intervention, experts say.

“Brazil maintains a posture generally against foreign intervention in Arab countries,” said Arlene Clemesha, director of the Center of Arab Studies at the University of São Paulo. “However, in the case of the most recent Arab uprisings, the Brazilian government proved unable to quickly and accurately assess the situation and position itself accordingly.”

Ms. Clemesha says the friendship built between Brazil and Syria during the Lula administration, along with Brazil’s desire to play a role of mediator in the region may have clouded Brazil’s judgment on the Syria conflict. “The Brazilian government adopted an excessively timid posture.”

Brazil’s behavior may also be based on shrewd geo-political calculations, according to Peter Demant, professor of History at the University of São Paulo.

“Supporting Assad – at least as long as he’s in the saddle – comes at small cost; in contrast to helping the opposition,” he said. “If Assad stays in power, Brazil will have won… That he’s presently losing, is perhaps the calculation in Brasília: time to change sides.”

9 Responses to "Brazil Removes Diplomats from Syria"

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  6. John Hesse  August 3, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Wow !!! I realize this article was posted on 7/24/12 and things have certainly have gotten worse. The carnage has even encroached the areas of the affluent who once felt safe and isolated from the situation partly because of what Syria releashed as “news”.
    To evacuate Brazilians to Beirut from Syria is insane. Beirut is part of this situation. It has no central command whatsoever. Why not fly them back to Brazil ? I must disagree with the statement “supporting Assad comes at little cost. The article was right about clouded judgement . Dark Ominus Clouds. I know Brazil is not known as a great military power but has first class swat units and other specialized police in it’s largest cities. Please explain and convince me they can handle the rescue of 3,000 Brazilians holding dual citizenship if needed. Hopefuly that number is less by now. An operation of that magnitude can only be done by about 3 to 5 countries . When the fall happens chaos will ensue and even though I believe it will go smoother than Libyas’ transition which is still unstable. Revenge killings although wrong will happen and I don’t think a trapped Brazilian if confronted by one or more of these men can dissuade them by saying I’m also a Brazilian Citizen. It may be too late now but the window was open to get them out and it should have been stressed convincingly to leave now. Some would have remained but many more would have left to safe zones . Not Beirut!! May God look over them because thet are in the middle of Hell and it’s getting hotter.
    Thanks For Listening , John H.

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