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
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there