GCC, Arab League, UN condemn US Syria threats

16 April 2003
The GCC on 15 April warned the US to stop threatening Syria and called for a swift formation of an interim Iraqi government. 'We think that the threat to Syria should stop,' said GCC spokesman, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, following an emergency meeting in Riyadh. 'We reject any infringement of Syria's security.' On Iraq, he said that the GCC currently considered the country an occupied state, and urged the coalition to move quickly towards the formation of a civil administration. 'The creation of an Iraqi transitional government is very important because the Iraqi people won't accept a government from outside for very long.' Washington had escalated criticism of Syria in recent days, accusing Damascus of harbouring fleeing Iraqi officials, testing chemical weapons and supporting terrorist groups, although the administration has denied any plan to attack Syria militarily.

The Syrian government on 15 April issued a strong statement in rebuttal of the allegations, describing them as 'threats and falsifications'. 'The cabinet rejected these accusations and allegations and saw them as a response to Israeli stimulus and a service to its [Israel's] goals and expansive greed.' Israel has been the only country so far to echo the American allegations. 'Bashar Asad is dangerous, his judgement is flawed,' Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview with the Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper. 'He has shown that he is unable to draw obvious conclusions -Anyone with eyes in his head would have known that Iraq was on the losing side.'

The Arab League and the UN joined in the GCC's criticism of the US. 'I believe this is like throwing oil on a fire or salt in a wound, as you say, and it makes the situation even more tense and mysterious,' said Arab League spokesman Hisham Youssef. 'Israel being involved is going to inflame the whole region.' A statement from the UN said: 'The Secretary-General is concerned that recent statements directed at Syria should not contribute to a wider destabilisation in the region already affected heavily by the war in Iraq.'

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