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Syria: Demonstrations against Assad’s Arab Summit participation

May 20, 2023 at 12:21 pm

Syrian opposition protesters rally in the city of Afrin, northwest of Syria, condemning the Arab League’s initiative to invite the Syrian regime’s head, Bashar al-Assad, to attend their summit on May 19, 2023. [Photo by Rami Alsayed/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

Hundreds of Syrians demonstrated in cities and towns outside the control of the Syrian regime on Friday in the north of the country, in protest against the participation of the regime’s president, Bashar Al-Assad, in the Arab summit in Saudi Arabia.

The cities of Idlib, Al-Bab, Azaz, Jarabulus, Afrin and Akhtarin witnessed protests in which demonstrators raised banners and signs denouncing Al-Assad’s participation in the Arab League meetings. The protestors stressed in their chants that Al-Assad does not represent the Syrian people.

Lawyer Ziyad Al-Muhammad, one of the participants in the Afrin demonstration, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that if the Arab countries: “Are truly interested in the interests of the Syrian people, they must end the regime that killed and displaced millions of Syrians,” urging the leaders of the military and political opposition factions to: “Not stand by idly in the face of what is happening and to be up to the responsibility towards the blood of the regime’s victims.”

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Saad Jumaa told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Syrian people: “Did not consult anyone when they revolted against Al-Assad, and the blood of the Syrian people is above the interests of the countries that normalised relations with a regime that killed and arrested thousands… The Syrian people’s revolution dropped many masks, including the mask of the Arab League.”

Lawyer Muhammad Haj Abdo described Al-Assad’s chair at the Arab League as being: “Made of the skulls of children in the chemical weapons massacre and the massacre at Queiq River and Tadamon. Al-Assad has not and will never represent the Syrian people after he displaced, killed and arrested more than half of them.”

Demonstration in Idlib

Hundreds of Syrians also demonstrated in the city of Idlib, north-western Syria on Friday, and raised signs and slogans rejecting the return of the regime’s president to the Arab League. Some slogans read: “Syria is not represented by the criminal Assad” and “A seat occupied by the Assad regime is a seat occupied by the Iranian regime, not Syria.”

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Human rights activist Nayef Shaaban told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “We are here to reject normalisation with Bashar Al-Assad, and we reject the presence of this criminal in the Arab League. This league was established mainly for the Arab nations, but it seems it has become for the Arab regimes. We are not surprised by this normalisation, as it was under the table in the past and has now moved onto the table.”

“We hope that there will be an awakening of the Arab leaders to remove this criminal from the Arab League and that they do not shake hands with him or normalise relations with him because he will not commit to them or keep his promises. It must be noted that when we emerged with our revolution, this criminal was on good political terms with the Arab countries,” Shaaban asserted.

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