CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign minister warned on Monday that arming Syria’s opposition could lead to a full civil war and argued instead to give an Arab League peace plan a chance to succeed.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have advocated arming rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Egypt and some other Arab states have been wary of such a move.
“Arming the Syrian opposition, as Egypt sees it, will increase the rate of killings and will transform the situation in Syria as a whole to a full civil war,” Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said, according to state news agency MENA.
“We want to give a chance for UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s mission to Syria to see what will come of it,” he said.
“I hope that there would be a non-military solution to the crisis through the Arab states’ initiative.”
Under the peace plan put forward by Annan, Syrian troops would withdraw all military units from towns, and then both the government and opposition forces would have 48 hours to cease hostilities.
Syrian told Annan it would begin withdrawing its troops from towns by April 10, Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Monday.
The United Nations estimates Syrian security forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule and rebels have killed 3,000 troops and police.
Amr said he had called for a meeting with the Syrian opposition at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo, but MENA did not say when the meeting would take place.
Western and Arab nations meeting in Istanbul on Sunday stepped up verbal pressure on Assad but stopped short of arming rebels or fully recognising an opposition council.