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Inside Syria

Is it time to arm the Syrian opposition?

As the new opposition group is established, we ask if it should now be supplied with 'defensive weapons'.
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2012 10:54

Leaders from Syria's newly formed opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, held talks in London on Friday with the UK government.

Britain said it welcomed the establishment of the group, but that it is too early to recognise it as the legitimate opposition to Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

"That is the problem the Arab world has with the West, there are 40,000 or more killed, human rights violations and human catastrophe and the West always has the same old words: 'Let’s talk, let’s negotiate' and that is the gap between the Arab world right now and the West  - and that is why we look [at them] with an eye of suspicion."

- Fahed al-Shelaimi, a security analyst

Its leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib then went on to Paris where Francois Hollande, the French president, became the first world leader officially to recognise the National Coalition. 

William Hague, Britain's foreign secretary, said the country is only willing to recognise the new Syrian Opposition if certain conditions are met. 

"The formation of the coalition is a very encouraging development and I am further encouraged by the discussions that I have had with them this morning. It is important of course and I have stressed to them, that they respect minority rights; that they are inclusive of all communities in Syria; committed to a democratic future for the people of Syria ... "

So what is needed to assist the coalition now? 

Mohamed Haydar, from the Syrian National Turkmen Bloc, says: "In Inside Syria we definitely need quality weapons, namely anti-aircraft missiles. Any relief aid given to the Syrian people only remedies the aftermath of an assault. At the same time, many homes are destroyed; people’s hopes are dashed and future ruined."

We ask if the opposition should be armed with "defensive weapons" now that it has reformed to be a more inclusive body.

Inside Syria, with presenter David Foster, discusses with guests: Oliver Miles, a former UK ambassador to Libya; Fahed Al-Shelaimi, a security analyst and former colonel in the Kuwaiti army; and Sergei Alexandrovich Markov, a Russian political analyst.

"Russia will not respond [to the flow of weapons in Syria] , maybe Bashar al-Assad will respond, possibly Iran will respond because this war in Syria is not a war between Syrians. Syrians are only [the] hands by outside players. This is a war of a big coalition which includes Saudia Arabia, Persian Gulf monarchies, Turkey, Western coalition which includes France, United States and Israel against Iran. This is a clear war against Iran. The only problem with Bashar al-Assad is that he is an ally of the Iranian regime."

Sergei Alexandrovich Markov, a Russian political analyst.


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Source:
Al Jazeera
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