Arab League Summit: Doha Calls the Shots

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Men listen to Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, head of the Syrian opposition delegation, as he addresses the opening of the Arab League summit in the Qatari capital Doha on 26 March 2013. (Photo: AFP - Karim Sahib)

Published Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Despite the failure of Arab League member-states to reach an agreement on giving Syria’s seat to the opposition National Coalition, Qatar nevertheless managed to impose its will on the League.

In its drive to bring about the downfall of the Bashar al-Assad regime, Qatar succeeded in granting the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) Damacus’ seat at the March 26 Arab League Summit in Doha.

It didn’t matter that SNC president Moaz al-Khatib had resigned or the president of the opposition transitional government, Ghassan Hitto was hurriedly elected, prompting nearly a dozen members of the SNC to resign as a result.

Doha’s sheikhs are intent on forging ahead with their plan to chip away at the regime’s legitimacy – transferring it over to the SNC as quickly as possible – and to mobilize the necessary financial and military support the armed opposition needs to expand its territorial holdings.

Qatar’s attempts to speed up the transitional process by calling for what is in effect a parallel opposition government in Syria was tempered by reservations by several Arab countries, including Iraq, Algeria, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon.

Nevertheless, the summit’s final statement welcomed the SNC’s assumption of Syria’s seat at the Arab League and recognized it as the “only legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”

In particular, Jordan, Iraq, and Palestine found it difficult to adopt a position that severs all ties with the Syrian regime, given that its institutions remain largely intact and continues to run the affairs of a significant part of the population, not to mention that nine Arab countries still have diplomatic ties with Damascus.

Iraq, along with the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, also raised questions about the hurried process in which Hitto was elected and the fact that he has yet to form a government, which has already failed to garner the support of many opposition groups, most notably the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Many Arab countries also fear that their military support for the opposition may end up reaching hardline Islamist elements that are antagonistic to most of the region’s governments. Nevertheless the summit’s statement did repeat the position declared previously by the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting that any member-state has the right to provide the opposition with the necessary wherewithal to defend itself including military support.

A statement signed by around 70 Syrian opposition figures, including Michel Kilo and Kamal al-Labwani, stating their reservations about the newly formed transitional government fell on deaf ears at the Doha summit.

The final summit statement even looks ahead to a post-Assad period, calling for a UN-sponsored conference for the reconstruction of Syria, delegating the Arab League office in New York to determine the time and place.


This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


Shame on Qatar. This fat sheikh is without brain. Shame Arabs. Shame Shame.

I don't know about the rest of the people from morocco to the UAE , but I am ashamed to be an Arab and will no longer willingly admit to be one.

When a sewer like Qatar, which is ruled by a pimp who hates Arabs and half his family is in jail for opposing him and whose policy is to populate this sewer with outsiders, especially Europeans so he can feel non Arab. When this sewer is able to force its will on the rest of the Arab world, then I am no longer an Arab and would rather accept Zionism as my model of pride than either being an Arab or even a Muslim.

This is the lowest point in history for Arabs, my advice to all so called Arabs, wear a burqa, you should be ashamed of showing your faces in public.

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