JNN 27 Mar 2013 Doha – The summit of Arab League on Tuesday granted Damascus’ seat to the Syrian opposition and acknowledged the right of the member countries to provide all means of self- defense to the Syrian opposition.
Earlier on Tuesday, Moaz al-Khatib, resigned head of exiled Syrian opposition coalition, took up Damascus’ seat at the summit, calling for more political and financial support to the Syrian opposition.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011 , though Damascus is a founding member of the organization. . Earlier this month, some countries, mainly oil-rich Qatar and Saudi Arabia, led a push to invite the Syrian opposition to occupy the seat of Damascus at the pan-Arab body.
The Arab leaders rushed through the summit Tuesday, one day earlier than scheduled.
A total of 15 heads of state of Arab countries attended the summit, including Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria, Oman, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates are represented by high-level delegations.
Iran has criticized the Arab League (AL) for giving Syria’s seat to the foreign-backed opposition, warning that the move will set a “dangerous” precedence in the Arab world.
This hasty decision can turn into a new procedure and be applied to other Arab League member states in the future, Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday.
“This measure taken by the Arab League will be taken to mean the end of the [Arab] League’s role in the region,” he noted.
The Iranian official also advised Arab leaders to end their silence toward Israel’s aggression and crimes and focus their efforts on supporting the Palestinian people.
It consequently called on the opposition National Coalition on March 6 “to form an executive body to take up Syria’s seat” at the AL summit scheduled for Tuesday in the Qatari capital of Doha.
Damascus has censured the decision and condemned the Arab League for giving the country’s “stolen seat to bandits and thugs,” Syrian government daily al-Thawra said in a report published on Monday.
Iraq and Algeria are the only countries that have expressed reservations about the decision, while Lebanon has opposed the move.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of militants are foreign nationals.
Damascus says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are financing and sponsoring the militants.