Al-Khatib to address Arab League summit despite resignation from Syrian National Coalition

Syrian National Coalition president Mouaz al-Khatib. Photograph: Osman Orsal/Reuters

Syrian National Coalition president Mouaz al-Khatib. Photograph: Osman Orsal/Reuters


Syrian National Coalition president Moaz al-Khatib is set to address the Arab League summit convening today and tomorrow in Doha despite his resignation as head of the opposition organisation.

“I have decided to give a speech in the name of the Syrian people at the Doha conference,” he said. “This is a matter that has nothing to do with the resignation, which will be discussed later.”

He resigned after the coalition criticised his proposal to engage in dialogue with representatives of the regime and, against Khatib’s advice, asked Ghassan Hitto, a US resident, to assume the premiership and appoint a provisional government.

Frustrated over the coalition’s failure to form a provisional government to administer rebel-held areas of Syria, the league offered Syria’s seat if an executive body was established.

This requirement seems to have been fulfilled by the appointment of Hilli.

The resignation of Khatib, a former preacher at the Omayyad mosque in the capital, boosted his popularity in Syria, where many people feel ignored by the divided expatriate opposition.

The government castigated the league for giving its summit seat to the coalition, charging the organisation with rewarding “bandits” and “thugs” for staging a rebellion.

The official daily newspaper Al-Thawra said: “They have forgotten that it is the people who grant the power [to govern] and not the emirs of obscurantism and sand,” a reference to the rulers of Qatar and Saudi Arabia who support the opposition diplomatically and the rebels with funds and guns.

The paper said that the objective of the summit is to “finish off Syria”.

“They forget . . . that the Arabs without Syria . . . would not be real Arabs,” it added.

The pro-regime television station Al-Ikhbariya said: “The drums of treason echo in Doha.”

In the town of Mayadeen in eastern Syria, Col Riad alAssad, founder of the rebel Free Syrian Army, was wounded by a bomb attached to his car. His right leg was reportedly amputated after he was taken to Turkey for treatment.

Since the middle of last year year the Free Army has been sidelined by fundamentalist jihadis and ultra-orthodox Salafis who have taken the lead in the campaign to topple the regime.