Published — Wednesday 15 May 2013
Last update 15 May 2013 4:49 am
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.