Moaz Al Khatib, the acting president of the National Coalition and other opposition leaders including Suheir Atassi, Ghassan Hitto and George Sabra, stole the show at the Arab League summit in Doha, taking over Syria’s seat as the legitimate representatives of the country.
A fiery speech by Khatib amplified the jubilation for Assad regime opponents, as can be seen in the reaction of rebels in Homs in the video below, while the proceedings in Doha resulted in deep bitterness for loyalists. Baath Party doctrine is steeped in Arab identity politics, and unifying Arab countries has been the party’s main objective for decades, so losing the seat was seen as the latest strike against a teetering ideology.
Even Khatib’s detractors, such as Sufi cleric Mahmoud Abolhoda Al Husseini, were moved by the speech, and Khatib, who resigned his post as head of the coalition a week ago, saw his stature rise despite the murky status of his official role in the opposition.
The Assad camp responded with a swift lashing out, dismissing other Arabs as mere puppets of Israel and the West, while claiming that they were the only Arabs worthy of the name. The most popular pro-Assad Facebook group expressed its disdain in typical Baathist anti-Semitic terms.
In Doha, Khatib’s speech included a plea to the U.S. and NATO to extend the range of the Patriot missile batteries now based in Turkey to protect civilians in northern Syria from Scuds and air strikes. NATO and Washington immediately turned down the request.
Burhan Ghalioun, the first president of the Syrian National Council and a member of the Coalition, criticized NATO’s response, and said the alliance may have committed a legal and moral crime by refusing to help people facing certain death.
A more humorous take on NATO’s response made the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, poking fun of the hesitation by Western countries to defend Syrians against Assad’s air power. Activists announced the formation of a new group, with its name and leaders inspired by the first enemies of Islam. The banner (below) says that the fighters will raise the flag of apostasy in Syria. It ends with: “Arm us, pimps.”
Brown Moses, the pseudonym of British blogger Elliot Higgins, has maintained an important website that charted weapons in Syria, exposing the whereabouts of Croatian anti-tank guns intended for secular rebels and documenting the extensive use of cluster bombs by the Assad regime. He has decided to suspend the blog, a big loss for observers of the conflict. One alternative to follow in the space: James Miller of EA World View, who has provided excellent weapons analysis, recently tracing the origins of a new rocket launcher that turned up in rebel YouTube videos.
The week ended with the battle of the Easter eggs, with Assad supporters posting eggs painted with the current Syrian flag (red stripe) and opponents showing off their revolutionary eggs. It seems that Islamists sat this battle out as the black flag of Jabhat Al Nusra and other jihadist groups didn’t make an appearance.
: http://beta.syriadeeply.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/arab-league-reaction.gif : http://beta.syriadeeply.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/apostates-brigade.jpg : http://beta.syriadeeply.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/revolution-eggs.jpg : http://beta.syriadeeply.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/pro-Assad-eggs.jpg