The Shia-led government in Iraq has warned Sunni rulers of the neighboring countries against arming the Syrian Opposition and funding them to topple President Bashar al-Assad as it feared such moves would only help escalate the year-old conflict.
Stressing the need for finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in the Arab country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a press conference on Sunday that his country was opposed to arming the Syrian Opposition and attempts to bring down the Assad regime by force, "because it will leave a wider crisis in the region."
Maliki made the remark ahead of representatives of 83 nations and organizations who met in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul agreed to recognize the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the "legitimate representative" of all Syrian Opposition groups and extend all assistance to it in fighting the Assad regime.
The Iraqi government has adopted a more moderate position on Syria while its neighbors Qatar and Saudi Arabia favored arming the Opposition. The country's Shia leadership is very much concerned about hardline Sunnis replacing Assad as it would be a morale boosting for the minority Sunnis in Iraq, thereby upsetting the sectarian balance among Shia, Sunni and Kurds.
At a summit in Baghdad last week, the Arab League had agreed to endorse a six-point peace plan drawn up by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which calls for a ceasefire and talks with the Opposition.
Despite his peace plan which was also accepted by the Assad regime, violence raged unabated and the Opposition claimed that at least 16 people were killed on Sunday, mostly in clashes with security forces in Syria's east and northwest.
Meanwhile, Syrian official media ridiculed the "Friends of Syria" meet in Istanbul with the ruling Baath party newspaper describing it as "a regional and international scramble to find ways of killing more Syrians and destroying their society and country, to reach the broad goal of weakening Syria."
Russia and China, Syria's allies which have previously vetoed two U.N. resolutions against Assad, boycotted the conference.
by RTT Staff Writer
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