Suspended seats and resigned rebels: Syria's ex opposition chief to address AL at Doha
Syria’s resigned opposition chief Moaz al-Khatib said he would make a speech “in the name of the Syrian people” at the Arab summit in Doha, in a statement on Facebook.
“After performing (morning prayers) and consulting many trustworthy figures among them (the opposition’s envoy in Qatar) Nizar al-Haraki, I have decided to make a speech in the name of the Syrian people at the Doha summit,” Khatib said in a statement on his Facebook page.
Haraki told AFP that Khatib, who resigned on Sunday as head of the National Coalition, would head the Syrian opposition delegation filling the seat of Syria, which has been suspended from the League, at the summit starting Tuesday.
There have been several conflicting reports released in the run up to the summit. But, it still remains unconfirmed whether the seat at the Arab body will be handed over to the Syrian opposition.
Reactions from those supporting the Syrian regime have started to circulate, with Damascus already slamming the Arab League over its reports it handed Syria’s seat to the opposition forces. Damascus said the Arab League had rewarded “bandits” and “thugs.”
“The League has handed Syria’s stolen seat to bandits and thugs, to the (opposition) Coalition which thinks it can sit in the name of the Syrian people,” the official Al-Thawra newspaper said.
“They have forgotten that it is the people who grant the powers and not the emirs of obscurantism and sand,” the paper added, in an apparent reference to key opposition supporters Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The Arab League summit opening Tuesday in Doha “will take place under Qatari supervision with the main goal to finish off Syria. They forget... that the Arabs, without Syria, would not be real Arabs,” the paper said.
Syrian state television station Al-Ikhbariya added in the same vein that “the drums of treason echo in Doha.”
“Qatar wants to bypass the rules of the Arab League by giving the seat of a founding member of the League to a coalition that obeys only the money and fuel of the Gulf and submits to American dictates,” the station said.
The Arab League on March 6 called on the coalition “to form an executive body to take up Syria’s seat” and attend the summit, although Iraq and Algeria have expressed reservations, while Lebanon has distanced itself from the decision.
Since then, the coalition has elected a prime minister who is set to choose an interim government.
The League announced on Nov. 12, 2011 that it was suspending Syria after its regime failed to implement an Arab deal to end violence against protesters.
The move came after the regime of President Bashar al-Assad launched a bloody crackdown on dissent which has since morphed into a civil war in which more than 70,000 people have so far died, according to UN figures.