(DOHA, Qatar) — Adding insult to injury, the leader of the opposition in Syria is now occupying the seat at the Arab League that was once held by the Damascus government.
That decision, which was actually made earlier by the Arab League’s foreign ministers, was intended to be a poke in the eye of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for refusing to give up efforts to crush his political opponents after two years of fighting that has devastated his country.
A pro-Assad newspaper blasted the move by what it referred to as “treacherous, backward Arab regimes” but that didn’t prevent opposition head Moaz al-Khatib from taking his seat at the summit in Doha, Qatar. He proclaimed his group’s standing is “part of the restoration of legitimacy that the people of Syria have long been robbed of.”
Al-Khatib was also there to see how much recognition the opposition could attain from the international community, urging the United Nations to give it the seat Damascus now holds.
The opposition leader informed the Arab League that he asked NATO to extend its Patriot missile-defense protections in southern Turkey to help protect rebel territory in northern Syria that is under siege.
This would result in a no-fly zone, something NATO is still reluctant to agree to.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Claire Moran, CNN