Syrian opposition representatives take seat at Arab League summit

 

Syrian opposition representatives have taken Syria's seat at an Arab League summit held in Qatar in a significant diplomatic boost for the forces fighting President Bashar Assad's regime.

A four-man delegation led by Mouaz al-Khatib, former president of the Syrian National Coalition, took the seats assigned for Syria today at the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

The decision for the opposition to take Syria's seat was made at the recommendation of Arab foreign ministers earlier this week in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Syria's membership in the Arab League was suspended in 2011 in punishment for its crackdown on the opposition.

As well as Mr al-Khatib, the Syrian delegation included Ghassan Hitto, recently elected prime minister of a planned interim government to administer rebel-held areas in Syria, and two prominent opposition figures, George Sabra and Suheir Atassi.

Addressing the gathering, Mr al-Khatib thanked the Arab League for granting the seat to the opposition.

"It is part of the restoration of legitimacy that the people of Syria have long been robbed of," he said.

The diplomatic triumph won by the opposition, however, could hardly conceal the disarray within its top ranks.

Mr al-Khatib announced his resignation this week out of frustration with the amount of international support for the opposition and problems inside the body itself, but the coalition rejected it. He has said he will discuss the issue later.

Also, Mr Hitto's election as the head of the interim government was rejected by the opposition's military office, which said he was not a consensus figure. Some members have accused Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood of imposing their will on the council.

In Damascus, the government blasted the Arab League's move to allow the opposition to take its seat at the Doha summit, portraying it a selling-out of Arab identity to please Israel and the United States.

"The Arab League has blown up all its charters and pledges to preserve common Arab security, and the shameful decisions it has taken against the Syrian people since the beginning of the crisis and until now have sustained our conviction that it has exchanged its Arab identity with a Zionist-American one," said an editorial in the Al-Thawra newspaper, a government mouthpiece.

"The Syrians are fully aware that this is not a summit of the Arabs, and Arabism means nothing without Syria," it said, adding that recognising the opposition "legitimises terrorist acts that are committed overtly and blatantly against the Syrians, their institutions and properties".

The Syrian government says the conflict is an international conspiracy to weaken Syria being carried out by terrorists on the ground.

The crisis began in March 2011 with protests demanding the ousting of Mr Assad.

With a harsh government crackdown, the uprising steadily grew more violent until it became a full-fledged civil war. The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have died so far in the conflict.

AP

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea