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Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani talks during his news conference with Arab League SecretaQatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin

Arab summit backs arming Syrian rebels

Doha, March 27, 2013

An Arab summit agreed last night that Arab League member states had the right to provide military support to Syrians fighting President Bashar Al Assad, according to a draft declaration.

The summit, meeting in Qatar, urged regional and international organisations to recognise the opposition National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, the draft said, according to a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.

While it has diplomatic significance, the summit's draft language on arming the rebels may not have immediate practical implications for Arab policymakers: Arab states are not subject to the European Union and US arms embargoes on Syria, and many therefore consider themselves at liberty to supply the rebels with weapons.

While noting that reaching a political solution was a priority in ending the Syrian crisis, the summit "affirms every state's right, according to its desire, to present all kinds of measures for self-defence, including military ones, to support the steadfastness of the Syrian people and the Free Army," the draft document said.

The summit has been dominated by the two-year-old war in Syria, which has cost an estimated 70,000 lives.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib told the gathering he had asked US Secretary of State John Kerry for American forces to help defend rebel-controlled territory. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Doha | arms | Summit | assad | Arab League | Syrian rebels |

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