Arab Summit Opens with Calls to Arm Syria Rebels

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Syria's opposition called for "sophisticated" arms at an Arab summit in Kuwait Tuesday while Saudi Arabia stressed the need for a change in military balance to "end the impasse".

U.N. peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, however, insisted on the need for a "political solution" to the three-year conflict, urging an "end to the supply of arms to all parties".

Opposition Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmed Jarba repeated calls on the international community to supply rebels with "sophisticated weapons" as the two-day summit opened.

"I do not ask you for a declaration of war," said Jarba, urging Arab leaders to put pressure on the international community to comply with pledges to supply arms.

Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, whose country is a key backer of the Syrian rebellion against President Bashar Assad, said the international community was "betraying" the opposition by failing to arm them and leaving them as "easy prey".

A solution to the conflict, in which regime forces have recently made significant advances, requires a "change in the balance on the ground to end the impasse", he said.

National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi said rebels needed urgently "anti-aircraft missiles" to fend barrel bombs which activists say regime forces have been raining down on fighters and civilians alike.

The conflict in Syria, which in mid-March entered a fourth year, has killed more than 140,000 people and displaced millions.

Jarba said a decision not to hand over Syria's seat in the Arab League to the opposition sends a wrong message to Assad, telling him to continue "to kill".

"Let me say quite frankly that keeping Syria's seat empty... sends a clear message to Assad that he can kill and that the seat will wait for him," he said.

The Syria government's brutal repression of protests which erupted in March 2011 resulted in its suspension from the 22-member Cairo-based Arab League.

Its seat was allocated to the National Coalition at last year's Arab summit in Qatar, but has not been handed over because the opposition must meet legal requirements, said Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in his address to the summit that wraps up Wednesday, accused the Syrian government of "buying time" by "pretending to accept a political solution."

Brahimi urged a revival of peace talks.

"I call upon Europe, the United Nations and the United States to take clear steps to reactivate the Geneva talks," which broke off on February 15.

"There is no military solution," stressed Brahimi.

While the Syrian conflict is taking center stage at the summit, a regional rift over Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has been kept off the agenda.

The dispute pits Qatar against Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and has apparently affected the level of summit, the first to be hosted by Kuwait.

Kuwait said 13 heads of state were attending the meeting, with low-profile representation from its Gulf partners.

Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah told the summit that Arab rifts are threatening Arab aspirations and insisted that "we are required to resolve these disputes... and achieve unity."

Efforts to settle the inter-Arab rift appear to have been placed on the back burner, with officials ruling out any compromise being struck in Kuwait.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told reporters it was not possible to forge a compromise with Qatar during the summit because "the wound is too deep".

Kuwait's foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah said the dispute between Qatar and its neighbors would "be resolved within the Gulf house", not at the summit.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar in protest at Doha's perceived support of the Muslim Brotherhood, branded a terrorist organization by Cairo and Riyadh.

On the Palestinian issue, Arab leaders are expected to call for $100 million in monthly aid for the Palestinian Authority and to reject demands by Israel that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, fresh from talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington last week, was to brief his Arab counterparts during the summit.

Comments 11
Thumb Mystic 25 March 2014, 12:54

They already have them. That the SAA confiscates these weapons, is just proof of the failed, gulf countries investements.

Thumb Mystic 25 March 2014, 13:26

My friend Southern, I didn't forget about the foreign backed takfiris, but they always had very advanced weaponry. Even if they deny it.

Thumb Mystic 25 March 2014, 13:26

My friend Southern, I didn't forget about the foreign backed takfiris, but they always had very advanced weaponry. Even if they deny it.

Thumb Mystic 25 March 2014, 15:23

Another Western conspiracy theory of yours, Mr. American. Yabroud was the last takfiri american stronghold in Syria, bording Lebanon. They are so outraged that it happend, so now they do this suicide mission in Latakia province which they also tried in August 2013, and failed. These takfiris hope, they can kill as many of the Syrian Presidents sect as possible, including Christians in the Armenian/Syrian town of Kassab, which borders turkey. It is not an advance, it is a salafi death squad killing every civilian in their way.

They government stopped the salafi advance, and are now regaining security in the few territories. You will see this attack will fail, just like it did last year.

Missing helicopter 26 March 2014, 03:31

Sure they had advanced weapons, stealth bombers, F-16 jets, and laser guided surface-to-surface and surface to air missiles, and lets not forget those Abraham tanks.
Don't get me wrong, I do not want the takfiris to have a kitchen knife even, but the legitimate resistance that was snuffed early on by both Assad and Takfiris is a different story.

Thumb zahle1 25 March 2014, 21:56

It is a shame that the Arab summit only focuses on atrocities committed by one side. They should do more to reign in the extremists they indirectly support.

Thumb zahle1 25 March 2014, 23:57

I really think the KSA and FSA have totally dropped the ball on this.

Thumb zahle1 26 March 2014, 15:25

I get two thumbs down. We have nuns kidnapped. Bishops kidnapped. Churches desecrated... But no, none of the prominent Sunni National leadership dropped the ball in ensuring these atrocities didn't happen. I get two thumbs down.

Missing people-power 25 March 2014, 22:39

HD posts twice, and FD posts 8 times in response..... yeah sure Foreclosure, you're not flustered.

Missing --karim- 26 March 2014, 00:05

Good to see the FSA-Al Qaeda jihadist terrorists being destroyed and begging for mercy. They be brought to justice for their massacres and crimes.

Default-user-icon Ahmed (Guest) 26 March 2014, 06:28

Is it at the Swiss bank that the holy verses given to the children of Ibrahim are safely locked? Is it not a very strong proof that these very dear verses in these three holy books are for the very purpose of avoiding the atrocities on each other. You could ask any one who belongs to the party of Allah and he would remind you of the verse that says "Sullatul minal awaalin waa kallilun minal akhareen" May Allah (S.W.)bring all the believers into realising who and where is the real enemy bent on eliminating Islam from day one.