Arab League: Syria seat not yet given to coalition

Updated 15 May 2013
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Arab League: Syria seat not yet given to coalition

DUBAI: The vacant Syrian seat at the Arab League has not been given to the opposition, even though its leader addressed the bloc’s last summit, the League’s secretary general said yesterday.
“The opinion was that if they (opposition) form a government, which they have not done yet, then they can become a representative,” Nabil Elaraby told reporters in Dubai.
He said the opposition chief had been invited to address the March summit in Doha by the meeting’s Qatari host, not by the bloc.
“Yes, they were invited to address the summit, but until now, the opposition is not invited to meetings, because it has not formed a government,” Elaraby said.
Meanwhile, Syria’s opposition National Coalition warned yesterday that 30,000 civilians in the rebel-held town of Qusayr faced an “extremely dangerous situation” as regime troops prepare to attack.
President Bashar Assad has “mobilized military forces in the direction of the city of Qusayr, in the province of Homs,” the statement said, describing reports of dozens of tanks and large groups of soldiers on the outskirts of the town.
“The Syrian Coalition stresses that this is an extremely dangerous situation. We warn civil society of these new crimes that Assad may soon commit against the residents of Qusayr.”
The statement called on NGOs to head to Qusayr and for quick international action “to help save 30,000 civilians facing imminent danger.”
“We ask the (UN) Security Council to issue a decision forcing Lebanon to control its borders, and thus guarantee the withdrawal of Hezbollah members from Syrian territory,” the coalition said.
Qatar, which has taken a lead in arming the Syrian opposition, is coordinating with the CIA and has tightened control of the arms flow to keep weapons out of the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, according to rebels and officials familiar with the operation.
With Britain and France discussing lifting an EU ban on arming the rebels fighting Assad, Western countries are concerned about making sure no arms end up in the hands of groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra, which has pledged support for Al-Qaeda and which Washington considers a terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s prime minister says authorities have detained four more people in connection with two car bomb attacks in a Turkish town near the Syrian border, bringing the number of suspects in custody to 13.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said yesterday the death toll in the attacks has increased to 51.


White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

Keeping spirits alive Palestinian youths play with rollerblades by walls covered with graffiti at the sea port in Gaza City on Tuesday. AFP
Updated 20 June 2018
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White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

  • The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas
  • Jared Kushner’s team plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them

AMMAN: President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, kicked off a swing through the Middle East on Tuesday, meeting with Jordan’s king as part of a broader effort to lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Kushner and White House envoy Jason Greenblatt held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, a key US ally.
A White House statement said the talks focused on US-Jordan cooperation, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the US efforts “to “facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
US officials have said their peace plan is near completion and could be released this summer. But it faces resistance from the Palestinians, who have cut off ties since Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and moved the US Embassy in Israel to the holy city last month. The Palestinians, who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, accuse the US of siding with Israel in the most sensitive issue of their decades-long conflict.
Kushner’s team also plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them.
The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for an independent state. Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas militants seized control of the territory two years later.
The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas. The US, Israel and Western allies shun Hamas as a terrorist group. Details of the plan have not been released, but Palestinians fear they will get little more than a symbolic foothold in Jerusalem. They also fear that aid to Gaza will help strengthen Hamas’ control over the territory.
Jordan also has a stake in east Jerusalem, serving as the custodian of major Muslim and Christian shrines there. Jerusalem’s walled Old City, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967, is home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites.
Abdullah has also rejected Trump’s moves in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to relinquish any part of the city.
Netanyahu traveled to Amman on Monday for a surprise meeting with Abdullah, telling the king that Israel remains committed to the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abdullah told Netanyahu that the fate of Jerusalem must be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and that a solution should be based on establishing a Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, on lands Israel captured in 1967.
Palestinian officials fear the Trump administration plan will leave them with a mini-state in the Gaza Strip, parts of the West Bank and a foothold in Jerusalem. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he will reject any plan being floated by the Trump team, arguing that the US has forfeited its role as mediator because of decisions seen as pro-Israel.