Doha: The 24th Arab summit in Doha on Tuesday was technically over after Muath Al Khatib, the head of the Syrian National Coalition, took the Syrian seat at the assembly of Arab leaders and, minutes later, addressed the world.
Qatar, the affable host and one of the key players in the Arab world today, has made sure that the leader, who announced his resignation on Sunday, set aside his frustration, flew into the capital Doha on time to head the opposition delegation and delivered a highly emotional speech.
For Qatar, and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the issue of who represented Syria at the Arab summits and at the Arab League organisations had to be settled.
“It was an urgent matter that needed to be addressed decisively,” Khalid Ziyara, a Qatari political columnist, said. “Waiting for other countries, both in the Arab world and in the West, or seeking a unanimity within the international community that will never materialise because of the vast differences in the perspectives and approaches would mean more fatal procrastinations and more pains inflicted on the poor Syrians,” he said hours after the one-day summit ended.
Meanwhile, Syria vented its wrath at Qatar and the Arab League for handing its seat to a “deformed” opposition coalition. “The emir of Qatar, the biggest bank for supporting terrorism in the region, began his presidency of the Arab League by hijacking it with tainted oil and money,” said state news agency SANA.
Qatar and the GCC had pushed for granting the seat, vacant since November 2011, when Syria was suspended by the Arab League, to the opposition and their concerted drive looked inexorable. Qatar’s Emir, as the new chair of the summit, made sure that Al Khatib addressed the summit and the world before any Arab leader.
The other issues on the agenda could wait.
“However, as the Palestinian issue can never be ignored or overlooked, it was given a huge fund to help keep the Arab character of [occupied] Jerusalem against the Israeli onslaught,” he said. “The mini summit in Cairo meant that Palestinians will have their own platform to discuss urgent issues, including reconciliation and elections. Doha was meant basically for the Syrian issue, the end of the Syrian regime within the Arab League and the call upon the world to leap into real action. Al Khatib’s highly emotional speech on the sufferings of his people was the perfect finale for the debate on the issue. I will drink this karak to the success of the summit,” Khalid said, lifting his cup of sweet tea at the cultural village of Katara in the outskirts of Doha.
Khalifa, a youthful Qatari media expert, said that the National Coalition was formed in Doha and was granted a special status in Doha as well.
“Qatar and the other GCC countries have been very clear and forthright about their support to the Syrians,” he said. “They simply cannot remain passive and look away, pretending nothing is happening. The Gulf countries have truly learned and now mastered the art of international political manoeuvring. Some people mainly in the West allege it is thanks to their money while others, basically in the Arab world, attribute it to the less ostensible role of former Arab powerhouses. That is beyond the point because the assertions are often motivated by narrow perspectives. The GCC has emerged as a leader within the Arab world and it is behaving as such. The Doha summit was a confirmation of this new status,” he said.