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Behind the scenes at the Arab League’s meeting on Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- in protest of the suspension of his country’s membership to the Arab League, Syria’s representative, Youssef Ahmed, clashed and launched obscenities at Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin-Jasim, Arab League Secretary General, Nabil Elaraby, and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Kirti.

Commenting on Al-Ahmad’s behaviour, Sheikh Hamad told Asharq Al-Awsat,”May God forgive him, because our aim is to help Syria and to enable it to avoid dangers.” Sheikh Hamad expressed his hopes that wisdom will prevail, and there will be no nervous reactions.

Asharq Al-Awsat has learned that the closed second session of the Arab League Council meetings on Syria witnessed a hostile reaction by Syria’s representative towards each of the chairman of the session and the Arab League secretary general. Al-Ahmad also clashed with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Kirti outside the meeting at the hall of the Arab League, where Al-Ahmad said, “Even Sudan, which we defend; this is a disgrace on Sudan, and on the Arab League.” At that time Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammad Kamil Amr and some members of the Arab delegations were standing with the Sudanese minister, and they tried to calm down Al-Ahmad.

The sources added that Al-Ahmad continued to shout, “To hell with the Arab League, it is all hirelings.” Al-Ahmad concluded with more obscenities.

The sources also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Ahmad felt angry when he learned that the tendency within the Arab League was moving toward suspending his country’s membership and inviting the Syrian opposition for a transitional stage. The Arab League resolution was issued against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with the approval of 18 Arab countries, the objection of two countries, Lebanon and Yemen, and the abstention of one country, Iraq.

Al-Ahmad’s angry behaviour was also showcased at the post-Arab league meeting press conference, where Al-Ahmad described the Arab League resolution as “null and void, and contradicting the Arab League Charter.” Al-Ahmad pointed out that dismissing a country from the Arab League, or suspending its membership requires unanimity of votes.

Al-Ahmad claimed, “The secretary general asked the Arab League legal department to study the way to issue the suspension resolution, and the study confirmed that according to Paragraph 2, Article 18 of the Arab League Charter it is inadmissible to suspend membership without unanimity.”

The Syrian ambassador warned that if Syria “suffers any harm, this will cause immense harm to all the neighbouring Arab countries.” Al-Ahmad warned that “the Gulf countries will not be excluded from this harm.”

Regarding the resolution to suspend Syria’s membership Al-Ahmad said that “we do not recognize it, and it does not concern us in any way.” He added: “There are Arab sides that have put themselves at the service of the Israel-US scheme, and they are implementing it.”

The Syrian Ambassador said that the resolution adopted by the Arab League was “a farce,” and the statement about it “was prepared in advance by the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC], which has become a political bureau for the league, and which meets one day before the Arab League Council meeting, and prepares the resolutions they want to adopt and try to impose in one way or another through their relations with the other members.”

Al-Ahmad also went on to say that, “The west, especially the United States, pushes in the direction of fragmenting the Arab world, especially Syria, for obvious and well-known reasons.” Al-Ahmad pointed out, “The Sudanese president was wanted by the International Criminal Court; however, after Sudan was partitioned, we no longer hear of this resolution.”

Before adopting the resolution to suspend Syria’s membership Al-Ahmad delivered a speech after which the Arab League Council at the level of foreign ministers was compelled to suspend the proceeding of the first closed session at the request of Sheikh Hamad, chairman of the meeting, in order to allow the Arab ministerial committee concerned with Syria the opportunity to meet on the sidelines of the council meeting in order to consult over the new formulation of the draft resolution.

Sources from within the meeting said that the ministerial committee was dedicated to discussing the way to deal with the rejection by some Arab countries of the proposal to freeze Syria’s membership of the Arab League and its organizations. The sources added that there was a strong tendency within the ministerial committee to propose the issue of freezing Syria’s membership for discussion; however, the rejection by some pivotal Arab countries made the chairman of the meeting call for an urgent meeting of the committee on the sidelines of the council meetings to find a way to get out of this dilemma.

The sources explained that the Syrian representative at the Arab League stressed in his address the commitment of his country to the implementation of the articles of the Arab action plan to resolve the crisis in Syria. The Syrian representative claimed that the armed manifestations have been withdrawn from the streets, and that Syria “is exposed to a media campaign of deception led by channels working for the benefit of foreign sides, and the Arab League mission should be given the opportunity to visit Syria and get acquainted with the situation there.”

The sources added that Syria’s representative, despite the continued violence against the civilians, also expressed his surprise at the call for this ministerial meeting despite the fact that a previous meeting was held at the beginning of the month, and the existence of a 10-day time limit given to the Syrian Government to implement the initiative. The Syrian representative wondered: “Why the hurry?”

According to the sources, Al-Ahmad added that he “reiterates anew the commitment of his country to the implementation of the Arab action plan in a serious way. Syria’s intentions are serious, and it is continuing to implement all the articles of the plan. Syria has gone a long way in implementing these articles despite the attempt by armed sides at home, which are linked to countries and sides abroad, to abort the plan since day one.”