Arab League calls for international response to Syria

Arab League calls for international response to Syria

Arab League secretary general Nabil Al Arabi and Egypt Foreign Affairs minister Nabil Fahmi head a meeting of the Arab League with Arab countries Foreign ministers on Syria on September 1, 2013 at the body's Cairo headquarters (AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Arab League secretary general Nabil Al Arabi and Egypt Foreign Affairs minister Nabil Fahmi head a meeting of the Arab League with Arab countries Foreign ministers on Syria on September 1, 2013 at the body’s Cairo headquarters
(AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

The Arab League has called for the United Nations and the international community to “carry out their responsibilities” to respond to the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.

Following a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Arab League member states on Sunday evening, the League published a statement that “strongly condemns and deplores this heinous crime that was committed using internationally banned chemical weapons.”

The statement released by the League was more diplomatic than that of the delegates of the League who met last week. In their statement they held Bashar Al-Assad’s regime fully responsible for the use of chemical weapons on 21 August, in an attack that the United States claims killed 1,429 people including 426 children.

The UN weapons inspection team travelled to the site of the alleged chemical attack and collected samples in order to determine whether or not chemical weapons were used. The UN announced that the samples would be delivered to a laboratory on Monday and the organisation has made clear that the inspectors would not report who the perpetrators of the attack were.

In a press conference held on Monday morning Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil El-Araby said that waiting for the United Nations weapons inspectors’ report is futile, adding that 18 member states agreed with this assessment.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy attended the meeting to represent Egypt’s stance on the issue. Official ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said on Monday that Fahmy reiterated Egypt’s stance that it “strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons by any party.” The spokesman said that Fahmy stressed that Egypt opposes foreign intervention in Syria and that it opposes “any use of force outside of the Charter of the UN” adding that any use of force must be in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter. Abdelatty also said that Fahmy stressed, “Bashar Al-Assad should take on his responsibilities as President of Syria and stop the killings of innocent people.”

The spokesman stopped short, however, of placing blame for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict. “This is for the UN to decide and we have to wait [for the decision],” said, and stressed that Egypt is still seeking a political solution to the conflict, calling on the Syrians and the international community to work towards this as well.

United States President Barack Obama has placed the blame for the attack on the Syrian regime and claim to have strong intelligence to back this up. Many countries, including France and the United Kingdom, have also said they believe the regime was behind the chemical attack.

Despite being suspended from the Arab League, the Syrian regime does have support in the region from Iran that has said any attack against Syria would have “harsh consequences.” Last Thursday Iran’s army chief said, “any military action against Syria will drive the Zionists [Israel] to the edge of fire,” in a statement published by the official IRNA news agency.  He also warned that the ensuing conflict would not be limited to the region.

Spokesman for the United Nations Refugee agency Peter Kessler confirmed on Monday that 4.2 million people have been displaced inside Syria and 1.9 million have been displaced outside of the country as a result of the conflict that has lasted for more than two years and claimed the lives of over 100,000 people.

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