Qatar: Arming Syrian rebels to bring peace, justice
Published Saturday, June 22, 2013
Qatar's prime minister said on Saturday the only way to resolve the civil war in Syria was to arm rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad.
"Force is necessary to achieve justice. And the provision of weapons is the only way to achieve peace in Syria's case," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told ministers from Western and Arab states who support the Islamist rebels determined to overthrow the Syrian government.
"We cannot wait due to disagreement among Security Council members over finding a solution to the problem," he said.
The remarks came during a meeting in Qatar on Saturday between ministers from 11 countries including the United States, European and Arab countries, to tighten coordination of their stepped up support for Syria's anti-government militants.
After a series of military offensives by government troops, including the recapture of a strategic border town two weeks ago, US President Barack Obama said the United States would increase military support for the rebels.
Two Gulf sources told Reuters on Saturday that Saudi Arabia had also accelerated delivery of advanced weapons to the rebels.
"In the past week there have been more arrivals of these advanced weapons. They are getting them more frequently," one source said, without giving details. Another Gulf source described them as "potentially balance-tipping" supplies.
Speaking before Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Doha, a US official said the United States wanted to ensure that "every kind of assistance" offered by the 11 countries attending the meeting go through the Supreme Military Council, led by General Salim Idriss, a former commander in Syria's army.
Idriss last month during an interview with Al Arabiya gave a 24-hour deadline for Lebanese Hezbollah troops to leave Syria, threatening Lebanon with unspecified repercussions should they fail to do so.
Lebanon has come under a wave of attacks by suspected Syrian rebels since the western-favored Idriss issued the threat.
A diplomat who had seen the draft communique of the meeting said there was no mention of establishing a no-fly zone or specific mention of weapons supplies to the rebels.
The United States and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict, hope to bring them together for negotiations in Geneva originally scheduled for this month.
Moscow opposes arming rebel forces that it says include terrorist groups, and has warned that a swift exit by Assad would risk a dangerous power vacuum.