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Mansour denounces Syria resolution, fears for Lebanon’s safety

  • Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour attends a press conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Nov. 25, 2011. AP

BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour slammed an Arab League resolution calling for greater cooperation with the Syrian opposition Sunday, warning that it would only bring further instability to the country. “What do we really want from Syria? Do we want regime change or do we want a political solution? ... If we want a political solution then should we stand with one side or the other?” he asked.

“The resolution also leads to politically and financially supporting the opposition, but will this bring stability to Syria?” he said Arab Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo to discuss the unrest in Syria.

During its meeting, the League approved a resolution calling for “opening communication channels with the Syrian opposition and providing all forms of political and material support to it,” and urging the Syrian opposition to unite.

In his address, Mansour also denounced proposals to recognize the Syrian National Council as the representative of the Syrian people.

“This decision would be very dangerous and shouldn’t be adopted it. It would lead the country into darkness ... the Arab League would bear a historic responsibility because this resolution would upset the stability of Syria and the region,” he said.

Mansour was critical of the League’s performance, telling members: “After every meeting, the Council has issued new resolutions and this shows that the Arab League has failed to produce dialogue and achieve security.”

Mansour told a Kuwaiti newspaper in comments published earlier Sunday that Lebanon has nothing to gain by recognizing the SNC, and described Russia and China’s veto of a Western-backed resolution calling on President Bashar Assad to hand over power “realistic.”

“I think Lebanon does not have any interest in recognizing [the SNC],” Mansour told Al-Ray newspaper.

“We found that the U.N. Security Council proposal was unbalanced given that it takes into account one point view and not the other ... we should take into account points of views from all sides in order to [draft a resolution],” he said.

“Recognizing the Syrian National Council could lead us down dangerous path,” he added, criticizing former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s calls last week for Arab countries to recognize Syria’s opposition as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.

“If Lebanon’s policy is to disassociate itself then how can it recognize the Syrian National Council? Isn’t that considered interference in the internal affairs of Syria? Would the recognition serve the long-term mutual interests of Lebanon and Syria?” Mansour asked.

In a statement issued Friday, Hariri urged the Arab and the international community to recognize the SNC as the official representative of the Syrian people.

He also encouraged countries to deny Assad political cover for his lethal crackdown on protesters.

But Mansour felt opening up the conflict to international intervention would be problematic.

“We are against the internationalization of the Syrian crisis because that will not bear fruit and will not offer Syria any stability, but instead it will complicate matters further.”

“And perhaps there are countries who want to settle scores with Syria,” he added.

Taking the case of Syria to the U.N., according to Mansour, was evidence that the Arab League was incapable of resolving the crisis.

Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati, have said that the country’s policy of disassociating itself from ongoing unrest in Syria would benefit Lebanon given that the country cannot afford to be embroiled in another nation’s affairs again.

Mansour said that Lebanon was directly concerned with developments in Syria, adding that Syrian, Arab and international officials have all understood Lebanon’s “sensitivities” and its policy toward the crisis.

“Our action stems from our keenness of not interfering in the internal affairs of others,” Mansour said.

“We are working on establishing peace and stability in Syria because it concerns us,” he added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 13, 2012, on page 2.
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