» 02/25/2012 12:20 SYRIA "Friends of Syria" arm rebels and sanction Assad The opposition confirms receiving arms from Western countries. Saudi Arabia decides to arm the rebels and overthrow Assad. France, Great Britain, the United States are pushing for a resolution of the UN Security Council. Hamas sides with the opposition, for an "Islamic Syria". Damascus declares that the Tunis meeting supports "terrorism". Tomorrow the referendum for new constitution.
Tunis (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The "Friends of
Syria" group that gathered nearly 60 nations in a hotel in Tunis, has
publicly agreed to step up sanctions against the regime of Bashar Assad,
demanding "an immediate end to violence" and the opening of
humanitarian channels. But Saudi Arabia
have also decided on military support for the opposition, already a reality
albeit in a hidden way.
In a final statement, the group decided to step up sanctions against Damascus such as "a
ban on travel by members of the regime, freezing their assets, a block Syrian
purchases of hydrocarbons, reduction of diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime.
" The group also supports the Arab League's proposal for the deployment of
an Arab force with UN blue helmets "to keep the peace" and recognizes
the Syrian National Council (NSC) as the "legitimate representative of the
Syrians who seek a peaceful democratic change", but calls on it to
increase its representativeness by including other elements of Syrian society.
The declaration also states that the group wants to provide "effective
support" to the opposition, but without any further explanation of what
that support is.
In the discussion, Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi chief diplomat, said the "best"
idea is to "arm the opposition" and stressed that the only solution
to the Syrian crisis is to remove "willingly or by force " President
Bashar Assad. Qatar
instead wants "peace" imposed by force.
Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, supports the idea of UN peacekeepers and
diplomatic efforts to "convince" Assad to step down from power,
guaranteeing him and his family "judicial immunity" and a refuge in Russia.
Some members of the Syrian opposition, however, have already admitted that the Free
Syrian Army (FSA), composed of military deserters, receives weapons from neighbouring
countries or buys them on the black market. Western countries are also involved
in trade, content to turn a blind eye on smuggling. So far the FSA has been
able to take possession of small arms, communication equipment and night vision
goggles. Anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons are urgently needed, as well as
military advisers to coordinate the rebels.
Western countries, including France,
Britain and the United States, while condemning the violence of
the regime in Damascus,
are of the opinion that every move must be made following the UN Security
The head of the NSC, Burhan Ghalioun, has shown himself dissatisfied with the
results of the meeting. He had hoped for a decision in favour of military
intervention or overt support for FSA troops by the international community.
Instead that open support has come from Hamas. Yesterday, from Cairo,
Hamas leader in Gaza,
Ismail Haniyeh, welcomed the Syrian people's struggle "for
democracy". Until recently, Hamas has seen Damascus as their protector. Yesterday its
adherents in Cairo shouted: "Neither Iran, nor
Hezbollah, Islamic Syria. Assad, butcher, go away."
The emphasis on "Islamic Syria" and the strong support of Saudi
Arabia show that the tensions in Syria, born as an "Arab spring", is
turning into a war for Sunni supremacy against the Shiite Iran.
According to experts, this is one of the reasons why opposition representatives
of the Syrian National Coordination Body did not attend the meeting in Tunis.
In an attempt to broaden support for the NSC, Ghalioun has promised that
"the new Syria
will not be owned by any sect, denomination or group, but will be home to all
citizens the same level." It has sought the support of Kurdish and
Christian minorities, guaranteeing them that their rights will be respected.
Damascus branded the Tunis
meeting as a "meeting of the enemies of Syria",
of "supporters of terrorism" and the "friends of America and Israel."
Tomorrow in Syria
a referendum on the new constitution is due to be held, which reduces the power
of the Baath Party and the president of the republic. Given the instability in
many regions of the country, it is difficult to predict a peaceful poll. (PD)