Bassil Says Syria 'Biggest Gap' in Arab Summit, Regrets 'Absence of Any State'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has described Syria's absence as the “biggest gap” in the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit that kicked off in Beirut on Friday.
“We must embrace Syria instead of throwing it into the hands of terrorism, without awaiting a permission from anyone for its return” to the Arab League, said Bassil at the summit's opening session at Beirut's Phoenicia Hotel.
“Syria is the biggest gap in our conference today and we feel the heaviness of its absence,” he added.
And thanking “every state that has attended, at any level, despite the bad circumstances surrounding our region and country,” Bassil lamented “the absence of any state” and regretted that “we, as Arabs, do not know how to preserve each other.”
“We rather excel in alienating each other and weakening ourselves through losing each other,” the FM decried.
“I thank you all because you are here and because you still believe in Lebanon and the Arab League despite the failure that is hitting us,” Bassil went on to say.
At the opening of the session, the minister had asked his Arab counterparts to “observe a moment of silence in tribute to the souls of the martyr Rafik Hariri and all presidents, PMs and citizens in Lebanon and the victims of terrorism in the Arab world.”
Marred by weak representation amid the absence of the majority of Arab heads of states, the summit has also been surrounded by controversy at the domestic Lebanese level in connection with the participation of Libya and Syria.
Syria is not attending the summit seeing as its membership of the Arab League is still suspended.
Libya has meanwhile decided to boycott it in protest at an “insult” addressed to its flag which was removed from a pole near the summit's venue and eventually burned at the hands of supporters of Speaker Nabih Berri's AMAL Movement. Threats were also addressed to the Libyan delegation and a number of Libyan businessmen were reportedly barred from entering Lebanon via Beirut's airport.
Berri and AMAL have protested against the invitation of Libya in connection with the 1978 disappearance of AMAL founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr, a revered Shiite cleric. The former regime of slain Libyan leader Moammar al-Gadhafi is accused of kidnapping him. Berri and AMAL have argued that the new Libyan authorities have not exerted enough efforts to unveil his fate.