Al Arabiya participated in the Davos conference in Switzerland recently, organizing a panel discussion on the crisis in Syria and creating a platform for various voices to discuss a possible solution.
The panel was moderated by Senior Al Arabiya reporter and TV presenter Rima Maktabi and included former chief of Saudi intelligence and brother of the Saudi Foreign minister Prince Turki al-Faisal, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Gassan Saleme the Dean at The Paris School of International Affairs, Nasser Sami Judah, minister of foreign affairs in Jordan, and Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The main topics under discussion were the weapons supply and support for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) along with the refugee situation in surrounding countries such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon that are on the verge of a serious humanitarian crisis.
During the conference, Prince Turki al-Faisal stressed the importance of supplying the FSA with weapons which would enable them to defend themselves against Assad’s troops.
“I assume we are giving weapons to the FSA and if we are not, it is a big mistake, 60,000 people have been killed already. Do we have to wait for double or triple that number to die before Assad leaves?” he said.
“Everybody is committing a crime,” Prince Turki went on, referring to the international community’s lack of support and poor stance on the Syrian crisis.
Al-Faisal warned that Syria could turn into a terrorist’s safe haven if civil unrest prolongs, urging the international community to end it as fast as possible to avoid a lawless state.
Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu said Turkey has supported all the Arab revolutions so far and has stood by the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya. However the Turkish foreign minister didn’t specifically answer the pending question regarding the distribution of weapons to the Free Syrian Army.
“The Syrians know how we are helping them. But if you want a definite answer, this would not be right. I have to be diplomatic,” he said, prompting laughs among the audience.
The prime minister also answered a question raised by Rima asking whether there is a possibility that Assad could stay and be a part of a transitional government. Davutoglu insisted that is not Turkey’s call, or that of any other country in the world, it is up to the Syrian people. However, he beleives it is impossible for Assad to stay after what he has heard from meeting different Syrians.
Saleme, Dean at The Paris School of International Affairs, showed his concern toward the refugee situation in Lebanon and Jordan.
“The battle for Damascus hasn’t started. I pray it never will. It would flood Lebanon and Jordan with refugees.”
Saleme added that the battle in Damascus would go on for a long time “it is a city of 4 million people,” he stated.
Saleme said that due to Syria’s geographical proximity with Jordon and Lebanon, the number of refugees will dramatically increase in both countries. The dean fears these countries lack the experience that Turkey has in dealing with displaced people.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Judah, meanwhile, denied claims the kingdom has sealed off its borders with Syria. “There are 300,000 Syrians in Jordon, only 72,000 live in refugee camps and 220,000 to 230,000 live in Jordanians homes,” the minister said.
“In the recent winter storm, a refugee camp is a refugee camp, it is not an acceptable place for any one,” he explained. “Many Jordanians villagers were also affected, it is unacceptable in both scenarios.”