Russia has criticised the Arab League for giving a seat to a representative of Syria’s National Coalition, the political arm of the rebels currently battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The one-day summit in Doha began with the entrance of the president of the coalition Mouaz al-Khatib who took the Syrian chair at the League, receiving a round of applause.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “In Doha, another anti-Syria step was taken: a delegation of the Syrian National Coalition was invited and given the right to take the seat of official representatives of Syria in the meeting room.”
The Arab League’s move seals the Syrian president’s expulsion from the club. Worse was to come for the Damascus strongman.
“In the name of our oppressed people, we call on our friends and brothers for full support with all means, especially the full right to self-defence, a seat at the United Nations and other international organisations, and to freeze all the regime funds that were stolen from the Syrian people and dedicate them for rebuilding and reconstruction,” said al-Khatib.
The League then authorised member states to give military assistance to the Free Syrian forces.
Qatar and Turkey are likely to back Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated rebels, while Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates oppose any expansion of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence.