Qatar’s emir called for an Arab-led intervention in Syria, hinting at the use of military means to stop a conflict that has dragged on for 18 months.
After the United Nations Security Council’s failure to act in Syria, “it is better for the Arab countries themselves to interfere out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties and to do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria,” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told the 193-member General Assembly today.
Qatar has led the group of Gulf nations seeking more far- reaching measures to end Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, even going as far as arming the opposition, a step widely criticized by the UN and Western nations. Al Thani today suggested Arab nations should act in unison and intervene in Syria as they did in the 15-year civil war in Lebanon.
“We have a similar precedent when the Arab forces intervened in Lebanon” in the 1970s, he said.
Earlier in a CNN interview, Qatar’s prime minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabr Al Thani said Qatar would propose a “Plan B” for Syria involving safe havens and more humanitarian aid. Buffer zones would require use of military force to establish and protect, U.S. officials have said in resisting calls to support that type of effort.
The prime minister didn’t name any of the countries that may be involved in the plan. Syria is located in the heart of the Middle East, with Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Iraq as neighbors.
Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar, said the countries involved “want to accelerate, given the dangers of where we are and the situation inside Syria, to this kind of alternative. It’s a bit of a risk if it doesn’t really work.”
Shaikh, speaking by telephone from Amsterdam, said he would “consider it to be aspirational rather than something which is enforceable, especially without the U.S. support” to ensure a no-fly zone.
International and regional efforts have failed to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria, where at least 28,000 people have been killed, according to estimates by the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 35 people died today, including 19 in Daraa, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees in Syria.
The UN refugee agency has registered 221,280 Syrian refugees in neighboring nations, a figure that doesn’t include civilians displaced in Syria by the fighting.
Source: Bloomberg News