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Arab plans risk overtaking approach favoured by US

world Updated: Mar 02, 2012 23:50 IST
Thw Washington Post

Arab plans to arm Syria's opposition fighters are threatening to overtake the cautious approach advocated by the United States and other countries, which fear that sending weapons to the region could fuel a civil war and lead to a regional conflagration.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar indicated this week that they are prepared to help Syrian opposition military forces. Kuwait's parliament passed a nonbinding resolution Thursday calling for the government to provide weapons to the rebels and break ties with Damascus.

The Syrian National Council, the opposition group previously committed to nonviolence, announced the formation of a "defense ministry" that it said would unify rebel forces under a central political command and direct strategy.

"The revolution started peacefully and kept up its peaceful nature for months," SNC President Burhan Ghalioun told reporters in Paris, "but the reality today is different."

The Obama administration has continued to insist that economic and diplomatic pressure is the best way to push Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to capitulate.

"It's not clear to us that arming people right now will either save lives or lead to the demise of Assad's regime," Assistant secretary of state Jeffrey D. Feltman said at a Senate hearing Thursday.

But a senior Arab diplomat said, "People are more and more frustrated, and are coming to the conclusion that diplomatic efforts are not enough in light of continuing abuse by the regime."

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