March 27, 2013
Arab League approves arming Syria rebels
Arab League leaders gathered for an annual summit in Doha on Tuesday gave member states the “right” to offer Syrians all means of self-defense, including arms supplies.
The Arab summit affirms the “right of every state to offer all forms of self-defense, including military, to support the resistance of the Syrian people and the Free Syrian Army,” a resolution said.
However, “efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis are a priority,” it added.
Warplanes strike rebel posts in Damascus: activists
BEIRUT: Syrian warplanes launched two strikes on Qaboon in northeastern Damascus on Wednesday, as rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime seized three army posts near the ceasefire line with Israel, activists said.
“Two air strikes were carried out on rebel-held buildings in Qaboon,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that violence in Damascus has risen after insurgents seized control of Jobar district in the city’s east.
“There is now fighting in Tadamun, Assali, Yarmuk, Qadam and Qaboon districts,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP of outlying neighbourhoods of the capital that have previously seen intermittent violence.
U.N. probe on Syria chemical weapons will start next week: sources
An investigation by the United Nations on alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria will start next week, sources told Al Arabiya Wednesday.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a Swedish professor who was a U.N. chemical weapons inspector in Iraq and now works at a research institute that deals with chemical incidents to head the U.N. fact-finding mission that will investigate allegations of the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Jordan to continue hosting Syrian refugees despite security threat
Amman will continue to operate an open-door policy towards Syrian refugees, despite the economic burden on Jordan, and the alleged presence of pro-regime sleeper cells in the country.
Although Jordan hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, the government says it is firmly against any intervention in Syria’s internal affairs.
“In practice, we didn’t change our position, and we’re still defending our borders. We offer humanitarian assistance to the refugees,” said Jordanian Information Minister Sameeh al-Maaytah.
“We refuse firmly any external military intervention, and we refuse any Jordanian intervention on Syrian soil.”
Syria’s Assad makes plea to African summit for help in ending crisis
DAMASCUS, Syria – Syria’s increasingly isolated president appealed on Wednesday to the leaders of a five-nation economic forum meeting in South Africa to help end his country’s two-year conflict.
Bashar Assad’s appeal came a day after the Arab League endorsed Syria’s Western-backed opposition coalition, delivering another blow to the regime in Damascus.
Assad sent a letter urging the leaders of the five nation BRICS forum — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to “work for an immediate cessation of violence that would guarantee the success of the political solution” in Syria. The World Bank says these countries are driving global economic growth.
Arab League Part of Syria problem, Says Syrian Government
President Bashar Assad’s regime lashed out against the Arab League on Wednesday for giving the opposition Syria’s seat, and said the group could no longer play a role in solving the crisis.
“The decision taken by the Arab League on Tuesday has permanently eliminated it from playing a role in a solution for the crisis in Syria, because it has become part of the problem rather than its solution,” a government statement said.
“The summit encouraged the use of violence, extremism and terrorism that are a danger not only for Syria but also the whole Arab nation and the world,” it added.
“The countries that are playing with fire by arming, financing, training and hosting terrorists should know that they will not be untouched by the spreading flames,” the statement added.
Syria Rebels Open ‘Embassy’ in Qatar
The Syrian opposition opened in Qatar on Wednesday its first “embassy,” a day after opponents of President Bashar Assad were given Damascus’s seat at the Arab League.
Opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib and Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs Khaled al-Attiya inaugurated the representative office dubbed the “Embassy of the Syrian National Coalition”.
The original Syrian embassy itself remains closed.
Russia Calls Syrian Opposition’s Arab League Seat ‘Illegal’
Russia has criticized the Arab League’s decision to give Syria’s seat in the organization to the antigovernment opposition as “Illegal,” “indefensible,” and “anti-Syrian.”
The Foreign Ministry statement said on March 27 that the Arab League’s decision would encourage supporters of a military solution to the Syrian conflict.
Moscow also said the Arab League’s decision to support giving military assistance to Syrian rebels was “inconsistent” and violated international law.
Iran slams Arab League over ‘dangerous’ move of handing seat to Syria opposition
Iran lambasted the Arab League for allowing an opposition leader to fill Syria’s vacant seat at the organization’s annual summit and described it as “dangerous behavior,” Iranian media reported late on Tuesday.
With Syrian membership to the Arab League suspended in November 2011, the seat at Tuesday’s summit was filled by Moaz Alkhatib, the leading figure among Syria’s opposition coalition that is battling to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
Russia also criticized the Arab League for giving a seat formerly held by the Syrian government to a representative of the Syrian opposition.
‘Iran mulling 6-month uranium enrichment freeze’
Iran is considering an international proposal to suspend uranium enrichment to a fissile concentration of 20 percent for a period of six months and converting their existing stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to an oxide for medical use, Al-Monitor reported on Tuesday, citing diplomatic sources.
According to the report, Iranian nuclear experts discussed the proposal at technical talks in Istanbul last week with the P5+1 group of world powers which consists of the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Bahrain parliament names Hezbollah a terror group
Bahrain’s lawmakers voted on Tuesday to label the Lebanese militia Hezbollah a terrorist organization, the Lebanon-based news outlet Now Lebanon reported.
Tensions have been high since Bahrain accused Hezbollah of seeking to overthrow its government in 2011. According to a report sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2011, the ruling Sunni Khalifa family asserted that Hezbollah trained insurgents in Lebanon and the Islamic Republic of Iran to topple its government.
Four Killed in Iraq Attacks
A series of attacks near Baghdad and north of the capital killed four people on Wednesday, the latest in an apparent spike in violence just weeks ahead of Iraq’s first elections in three years.
Separate bombings south of Baghdad — one inside a restaurant and the other a car bombing near a police checkpoint — killed two people and left 26 others wounded, officials said.
They said three gun and bomb attacks in restive cities north of the capital killed two more people and wounded two others.