Arab League allows member states to arm Syrian opposition

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The Arab League has given the green light to its 22-member states to provide arms to the Syrian opposition, its Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said in a press conference held in Cairo on Wednesday.

While countries siding with or against embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s regime exchanged accusations over who is offering lethal arms on ground in Syria, Arabi’s announcement highlights the futility of solving the 23-month Syrian crisis.

So far Western countries have supported the Syrian opposition with non-lethal aid.

The secretary general said there was “no hope” in finding a political solution for the Syrian conflict and he considered U.N.-Arab envoy Lakhdar Ebrahimi’s main task was only to form a transitional government.

He also denied giving the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) a seat in the Arab body.

The League, in a resolution adopted at a meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo, called for SNC “to form an executive body to take up Syria’s seat” and attend its next summit, in Doha on March 26-27.

The umbrella group would retain Syria’s seat in the Arab League “until elections leading to the formation of a government would assume the responsibilities of power in Syria,” it said.

The call was based on “the sacrifices of the Syrian people and the exceptional circumstances” in the country.

The League's statement came after Reuters released a draft document from the Arab body which claimed it had asked the Syrian opposition to choose a representative to attend the League’s meeting in Doha .

Iraq and Algeria expressed reservations while Lebanon declined to be associated with the resolution, Arabi said.
Iraq allegedly made it clear that the Arab League is a representative for Arab states and not “oppositions.”

In addition, Lebanon's foreign minister called on Arab foreign ministers to allow the Syrian government to retake its rightful seat.

Adnan Mansur called for the “return of the Syrian government to its seat at the Arab League after Arab states failed to resolve the Syrian crisis.”

The League, which suspended Syria in November 2011, said at the time that it would remain until President Bashar al-Assad implemented an Arab deal to end violence against protesters.

A year later, the League recognized the Syrian National Coalition headed by Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib as the “legitimate representative and main interlocutor with the Arab League.”

Assad’s forces fiercely cracked down on what were initially unarmed protests inspired by the Arab Spring but the crisis has since escalated into a deadly civil war.