Spain is banned by law from joining any unilateral attacks against Syria

Government could react if NATO member Turkey asks for help

While Spain joined other nations in signing a joint resolution in support of US action against Syria — even if the United Nations rejects such a move — Spanish diplomats have said that the government is prohibited by a 2005 law from joining any unilateral effort if the action is not backed by the UN Security Council, the European Union or NATO.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was in St Petersburg last week for the G20 Summit, was adamant that Spain would not contribute any military resources if the United States decided to act on its own to attack Syria to stop the regime of Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons against his opponents. But Spain signed on to the joint statement issued late Friday that gives the United States full support for any attack if the UN Security Council does not act.

Afterwards, Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo denied reports that the Spanish government had offered the United States use of its military bases for the offensive. The US is expected to beef up its operations at the Rota Naval Station in Cádiz starting next year as part of a continent-wide defense-shield strategy — an agreement that was signed in the last months of the previous Socialist administration.

In 2005, a law was passed by the Socialists to avoid repeating unilateral decisions made by the executive for Spanish military intervention in other countries, as occurred when former Prime Minister José María Aznar joined the United States and Britain in the Iraq War.

Diplomatic sources consulted by EL PAÍS state that the only manner in which Spain could participate in a military operation involving Syria is if neighboring Turkey — a NATO alliance member — asks for help if it is attacked.

The Spanish frigate, Blas de Lezo, which is currently the commanding ship of the NATO fleet in the Mediterranean, could be called to the eastern sea region to patrol the area in the event of an attack, diplomatic sources said. The Blas de Lezo was scheduled to conduct naval exercises near Italy until the end of the month.

In the statement released Friday at the end of the G20 conference, Spain joined Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Kingdom in calling for “a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated.”

Given that the UN National Security Council has remained “paralyzed” for the past two-and-a-half years, the leaders and representatives said, they support immediate “efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

“The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability,” the statement said.

Germany, which had been opposed to siding with the United States in strikes against the Assad regime, on Saturday signed on to the joint statement.

Meanwhile, the Socialists in the Senate announced that they would ask the government this week for a clearer indication on how Spain would react if the United States attacks the Assad regime.

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