Arab States Call for Unified Front Against Syrian Violence

Syrian opposition groups must forge a united stance to better advance their cause, the Arab League’s chief said.

Opposition groups met in Cairo today, marking the latest push to bring together a disjoined movement amid international efforts that have yielded no real progress in ending a 16-month conflict that has left nearly 17,000 dead, according to non-governmental groups. The meeting is being hosted by the Arab League.

“The sacrifices of the Syrian people are greater than us all and more valuable than any differences or factional interests,” Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Arabi said in a conference session televised on state-run Nile News. There should be no opportunity “after this day for skeptics to question the ability of the Syrian opposition to bear its responsibilities,” he said.

The gathering comes after world powers on June 30 backed a UN-brokered peace agreement that failed to directly spell out the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The draft plan, which was submitted by UN special envoy Kofi Annan, was changed amid objections from Russia about language banning Assad and other senior officials from participating in a transitional government.

El-Arabi said a clearer transition was needed. He also said the Assad regime continued to favor a military option over a diplomatic solution and that this had led members of the opposition to defend themselves.

The Syria opposition must represent all segments of that country in order for it be been seen as a viable force for the country’s transition, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said.