Qatar has become the first member of the Arab league to suggest military intervention in Syria, exposing fractions within the league over the way forward.
The Telegraph reports that Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, said yesterday that he supported intervention “to stop the killing”. Qatar also led the way for Arab League involvement in the NATO-led no-fly zone in Libya last year.
Al-Thani’s statement comes at a critical time for the Arab League as the presence of its observers on the ground has done little to abate the state sanctioned killing of civilians, which now stands at 6,000 since the uprising began in March.
A number of Arab states, however, object to intervention, with the Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, for example, saying: “such intervention would signify that the war will spread across the whole region, opening the way to all powers, following the example of Turkey, Israel, Iran and Hezbollah. That would mean the whole region exploding.”
Despite such protestations, the head of the Arab League Amr Moussa said his organisation “should begin to study this possibility and begin consultations on this issue.” Meanwhile, the Syrian National Council (SNC), the leading Syrian opposition group, supports intervention and the creation of a safe area around the town of Jisr al-Shougur near the Turkish border, which saw a brutal regime raid in June last year.
To that effect, the SNC has formally joined with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an umbrella group for defectors from the Syrian Army. The next step would be for the FSA to garner the support of the independent brigades of defectors scattered across Syria, many of whom have little or no contact with the FSA.
The SNC supports the arguments for a safe area put forward by HJS communications director Michael Weiss in his paper,Safe Area for Syria: An Assessment of Legality, Logistics and Hazards, hosted on the SNC website.