BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said Monday that an initiative proposed by the Arab League aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria was “unbalanced,” drawing the ire of Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt who suggested that the minister should remain silent during Arab League meetings.
“The decision made by the Arab League yesterday is not related at all to the report of the Arab monitors and we said this during the meeting,” Mansour told reporters Monday at Rafik Hariri International Airport on his return from Cairo where he participated in the Arab League meeting.
“We came to discuss the report of the observer mission ... and suddenly this decision was put forth,” said Mansour.
During the meeting, Arab ministers were briefed on the report on the month of work by the monitors, which confirmed that Syria was complying with an Arab League plan to end the crisis in Syria. They decided to extend the mandate of the mission for another month.
Ministers also voted on a plan that calls on President Bashar Assad to pass power to his deputy and form a national unity government to be followed by early parliamentary and presidential elections.
Syria rejected the proposal while Lebanon disassociated itself from the Arab League’s decision.
Mansour said dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition was the only solution to the crisis.
“We said yesterday that before issuing the decision, serious work should be done to reach a cease-fire between the opposition and the Syrian government ... but they [Arab ministers] only focused on the side of the Syrian government,” he said.
The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 Syrians have been killed in Assad’s brutal crackdown against the uprising, now in its 10th month, along with other forms of violence. Syria blames foreign-backed armed groups for the violence.
Mansour said that the Arab League’s handling of the situation in Syria was not producing satisfactory results in the country.
In response to the foreign minister’s remarks, PSP leader Walid Jumblatt said it was preferable that Mansour “remain silent” while attending meetings of the Arab League.
“It is preferable that Lebanon’s representative remain silent during Arab meetings instead of preaching means to exit the Syrian crisis,” said Jumblatt in his weekly editorial at PSP’s Al-Anbaa newspaper.
Jumblatt added that Mansour should “only stick to the disassociation policy for now to prevent further undermining of Lebanon’s credibility.”
The Chouf MP also asked: “Isn’t the time now for [Syrian] Druze soldiers to reject orders by the military to kill their Syrian brothers in Homs, Hama, Idlib and other Syrian districts and to ... stay at home?”
For his part, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said it was up to the Syrians to decide whether the Arab League plan proposed Sunday was suitable.
But Geagea added that the report presented by the observer mission to the Arab League was “disappointing.”
“The report indicates that Arab monitors are either completely oblivious to what is happening in Syria or collaborating with the Syrian regime,” Geagea said in an interview with L’Orient Le Jour newspaper.
Geagea expressed surprise that the mission held the Syrian government and the opposition equally responsible for violence in Syria.