Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Saudi Council of Ministers on Monday reiterated the Arab League’s position on Syria, saying that the Syrian crisis should not be judged solely on the repercussions of the use of chemical weapons.
The ministers reminded the international community of the importance of making effective decisions to end the fighting in Syria immediately and to bolster international support for the opposition, in order to enable them to confront the government’s attacks and protect the Syrian people, said Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja following the cabinet meeting. He called on the international community to help the Syrian opposition install a fair system of government that respects human rights and preserves Syria’s unity and stability.
The cabinet meeting, chaired by Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, added that the intransigence of the Syrian government “flows in favor of extremist movements and threatens regional and international security.”
In a related issue, the international inspectors investigating the use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta attack in Syria on August 21, have reported that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that Sarin gas was used. The inspectors had been mandated to report on whether chemical weapons were used, not which side was responsible. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the incident as a “war crime.”
Meanwhile, a “diplomatic crisis” is expected at the UN Security Council on the Syrian issue between the US, Britain and France on one hand, and Russia on the other. This follows the announcement by the three that they intended to draft a strong resolution which includes specific time limits for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, including the threat of sanctions if there are any violation by the government of President Bashar Al-Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, rejected the announcement and described it as a misunderstanding on the part of the Europeans of the Geneva agreement.
Back in Jeddah, the Saudi Council of Ministers announced the ratification of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security pact that had been passed by the GCC Supreme Council in Bahrain last December.
“The agreement focuses on cooperation among member countries in law enforcement and information exchange,” said Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja.
The agreement calls for GCC member-states to cooperate in tracking down criminals and law violators irrespective of nationalities. The agreement also allows GCC states to take action against citizens and foreign nationals who attempt to interfere in their internal affairs, in addition to facilitating the exchange of information related to fugitives.