The opposition National Council won Syria’s long-vacant seat at the Arab League yesterday, on the eve of the organisation’s summit in Doha.
A high-ranking Arab League official in Doha told AFP that the opposition council “has been invited to the Arab summit and will occupy Syria’s seat”
at the 22-member Arab League.
The news came a day after National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib announced his resignation.
However, Khatib said he would address the summit “in the name of the Syrian people”, while the coalition’s envoy to Doha, Nizar al-Haraki, told AFP that Khatib would head the delegation representing Syria today.
“I have decided to make a speech in the name of the Syrian people at the Doha summit,” Khatib announced in a statement on his Facebook page, saying he took his decision after prayers and consulting friends.
“This is not linked to the resignation which will be later discussed,” he added.
The coalition has said it refuses Khatib’s resignation.
Haraki told AFP that Khatib would “head the eight-member Syrian delegation at the summit and will occupy Syria’s seat”. The delegation will include Syria’s first rebel prime minister, Ghassan Hitto.
The Arab League on March 6 called on the coalition “to form an executive body to take up Syria’s seat” and attend the summit, although Iraq and Algeria have expressed reservations, while Lebanon has distanced itself from the decision.
The League in November 2011 suspended Syria after Damascus failed to implement an Arab deal designed to end violence against protesters.
The move came after President Bashar al-Assad’s regime launched a bloody crackdown on dissent which has since morphed into a civil war in which more than 70,000 people have been killed, according to UN figures.
National Coalition member Ahmed Ramadan said Khatib has come under “intense pressure from Arab foreign ministers and from within the coalition to reconsider his decision.”
Qatar has also urged Khatib to reverse his decision, which came just
days after Hitto’s election in Istanbul.
Al-Khatib did not give a full explanation for his decision to quit. In a statement on Sunday, he said he was resigning so he could work more freely.
A Syrian opposition member, who requested anonymity, told AFP that Khatib’s resignation was “a desperate cry to protest the international failure to fulfil promises for aid”.
Below: HH the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani with the president of National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution, Moaz al-Khatib, who arrived in Doha yesterday to attend the Arab summit.