Opposition fail to get Syria Arab League seat

Opposition fail to get Syria Arab League seat
Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:20:08

The so-called Syrian National Council (SNC) has failed to seize Syria’s seat at a meeting of the Arab League, despite two days of intense lobbying.

The 22-member summit, which concluded in Kuwait City on Wednesday, decided to allow the SNC to participate in ministerial meetings on an "exceptional basis". But the league refuted to grant the foreign-backed militant group the official recognition it sought to be Syria's legitimate representative.

Nor did the body accede to SNC requests for weapons to be sent to militants fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.

Nabil al-Araby, the league's general-secretary, said Syria's seat had been kept empty during the summit because "the SNC is not a government and council seats are for governments".

He said this was the reason he "was against giving the SNC a seat" at last year's League meeting in Cairo.

Louay Safi, a spokesman for the SNC, appeared to confirm reports that Egypt had aligned itself with Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq in rejecting the handover of Syrian representation to the SNC.

Safi told reporters: "We are surprised that Nabil al-Araby is still trying to reach a decision in a way that is not positive but we are not going to come to any conclusions."

On Tuesday, Ahmad al-Jarba, the head of the SNC, criticised the Arab League’s decision to keep the seat empty, saying it was a message to Assad that "he can kill, and that the seat will wait for him to resolve his war".

Lebanon had threatened to pull out of the summit if the SNC were granted the Syria seat.

The Lebanese finance minister tweeted during the opening session that he stormed out of the session during Jarba's speech "in line with his convictions and principles".

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari disagreed with the access granted to the SNC, telling Reuters news agency: "Where is their sovereignty? Where is their authority? They are not a state, they don't have a government figure."

According to a declaration issued following the summit, the bloc insists that a political solution to the three-year conflict remained a priority.


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