Arabs, Russia discuss Syria amid splits


Arab and Russian foreign ministers met in Cairo on Saturday over Syria, amid splits over how to move forward to resolve a crisis that has left thousands dead in a year. The meetings come as the West and the Arab world pile pressure on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to end a year-old uprising spiralling into all-out civil war. Beijing and Moscow have used their veto powers as permanent members of the UN Security Council to block resolutions condemning the crackdown, because they singled out Assad for blame. “Today, the most urgent is to end all violence irrespective of where it came from,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Arab counterparts. He said both the government and the armed groups had to vacate Syrian cities and towns. But Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said the killings of civilians in Syria amounted to “genocide” and that a ceasefire was “not enough.” “The Syrian regime is committing systematic genocide while we talk of a ceasefire,” Sheikh Hamad said.“After all the killing, we cannot just talk of a ceasefire,” he said, demanding “accountability” for those responsible for the violence.Sheikh Hamad said “the time has come to apply the proposal to send Arab and international troops to Syria,” while calling for the recognition of the Syrian National Council as the Syrian people’s “legitimate representative.” “When we went to the Security Council, we did not get a resolution because of the Russian-Chinese veto, which sent a wrong message to the Syrian regime,” he said, warning that “our patience and the patience of the world has run out.” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said the UN veto allowed the “brutality” to continue. The stand of “the countries that thwarted the UN Security Council resolution and voted against the resolution of the General Assembly on Syria gave the Syrian regime a licence to extend its brutal practices against the Syrian.