By a majority vote of its foreign ministers, Arab League delegates invited the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) today, Tuesday, to take the seat at the organisation’s table formerly occupied by Syria’s Government and in particular on many occasions by President Assad himself or his foreign minister.
Syrian Revolutionary Flag Flies at Arab League for 1st Time
A round of applause welcomed the Syrian SNC Opposition delegation as the newcomers entered the hall after Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani opened the summit with a call on the Syrian opposition leaders to join the meeting.
The BBC has a short video of the event, HERE:
The SNC delegation was led by Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib, accompanied by Ghassan Hitto, the newly elected prime minister for Opposition held territory, and George Sabra, the leader of the Syrian National Council. They sat at a desk proudly displaying the revolutionary flag.
Syria has been suspended from the Arab League since November 2011 and “reservations” about allowing the SNC to occupy the vacant seat continue to be expressed by Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon. In Syria itself, the pro-Government newspaper Al-Thawra yesterday reacted furiously to the decision to allow in the SNC.
“The League has handed Syria’s stolen seat to bandits and thugs. They have forgotten that it is the people who grant the powers and not the emirs of obscurantism and sand,” it said, in a reference to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Syrian state television said, “Qatar wants to bypass the rules of the Arab League by giving the seat of a founding member of the League to a coalition that obeys only the money and fuel of the Gulf and submits to American dictates.”
The pro-Assad Tishreen newspaper called the “theft” of the country’s Arab League seat a “legal, political and moral crime.”
The SNC’s Khatib has somewhat confused the situation by announcing his “resignation” on Sunday, supposedly as what he sees as the imposition of Ghassan Hitto, a Syrian born American citizen, as prime minister, a move he believes was deliberately orchestrated by Qatar and US influence.
Khatib Takes Assad’s Seat at Arab League Summit
Addressing the Arab League this morning in an emotional speech, Khatib said the Syrian people were paying the price of liberty with their own blood.
Despite his private reservations over the election of Ghassan Hitto, Khatib publicly backed him, saying, “We have elected Ghassan Hitto.
We place all our trust and confidence in him. We on behalf of the aggrieved people call for support in all forms, including the right of right of self defence”.
He also went on to request stronger support from the USA.“The role played by the US should be much bigger. I asked John Kerry [US Secretary of State] to provide Patriot missiles to protect the northern province. We requested NATO to spare the lives of innocent civilians. We do not wish to fight, we wish to protect civilians to restore the normal way of life”.
(NATO later rejected this call reaffirming that it has “no intention of getting involved in Syria”)
At the same time Khatib rejected foreign interference. “We reject any foreign dictated orders. Differences at the international level have exacerbated the crisis. We created the revolution and it is only the Syrian people who will determine how the revolution will end. We will determine who will rule the country. We will live together to in harmony,” he said.
Khatib, in what was considered a very statesman like performance, but without indicating his own future role, said that the Opposition has offered the Assad regime an initiative to begin dialogue but it had been rejected.
He also urged Iran and Russia to withdraw their “experts” from Syria and asked “foreign fighters” to leave the country too, to allow Syrians to freely determine their own future.
(Source / 26.03.2013)