Syria Dismisses Notions of Foreign Intervention
The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.
The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence that is heading into its second year in Syria and that more forceful action was needed.
But, on Monday, Syrian authorities dismissed the gathering, news reports said, with the official Al Baath newspaper declaring: “Despite all the hype, the conference of the ‘Enemies of Syria’ produced only meager results, showing it was unable to shake Syrians’ rejection of foreign intervention.”
The newspaper, the mouthpiece of President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party, called the conference “another failure,” while activists reported continued fighting in several parts of the country and arrests of President Assad’s adversaries in the northern province of Idlib. News reports spoke of explosions in the northern city of Aleppo and in the capital, Damascus.
At the Istanbul gathering, with Russia and China blocking United Nations measures that could open the way for military action, the countries lined up against the government of President Assad sought to bolster Syria’s beleaguered opposition through means that seemed to stretch the definition of humanitarian assistance and blur the line between so-called lethal and nonlethal support.
There remains no agreement on arming the rebels, as countries like Saudi Arabia and some members of Congress have called for, largely because of the uncertainty regarding who exactly would receive the arms.
Still, the offer to provide salaries and communications equipment to rebel fighters known as the Free Syrian Army — with the hopes that the money might encourage government soldiers to defect, officials said — is bringing the loose Friends of Syria coalition to the edge of a proxy war against Mr. Assad’s government and its international supporters, principally Iran and Russia.