Syrian foreign minister accuses West of fomenting terror
Syria's foreign minister blasted U.S. and other Western and Arab nations at the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, accusing them of supporting terrorism by supplying weapons and guidance to rebels fighting for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In an address webcast worldwide on U.N. television, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem also branded calls for Assad to step down as "blatant interference in the domestic affairs of Syria." He said the appeals for regime change were made by "those who are ignorant of the facts or may be ignoring them."
The U.S. says it supplies non-lethal assistance to the rebels but not weaponry. Some states in the gulf region have sent arms to the opposition forces in Syria.
Moallem named the United States, France, Turkey, Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as states "that clearly induce and support terrorism in Syria with money, weapons and foreign fighters." He was referring to support for the rebels who have been battling Assad's forces in an 18-month uprising against the autocratic government.
Moallem directed his harshest words at "some members of the U.N. Security Council," referring to U.S.-backed resolutions to condemn the Syrian government for atrocities committed during the fighting and to demand that Assad step aside and allow negotiations on a new leadership. The proposed resolutions failed to get the necessary unanimous support of the five permanent Security Council members, as Russia and China refused to back them.
Assad's loyalists have cast the rebellion in Syria as the work of foreign terrorists rather than a domestic uprising aimed at breaking the government's stranglehold on political power.
Moallem also alluded to the worldwide violence sparked by a crude anti-Muslim video privately produced in Southern California as part of what he called a conspiracy to foment unrest and religious discord.
"This terrorism which is externally supported is accompanied by unprecedented media provocation based on igniting religious extremism," Moallem said, apparently referring to the 14-minute "Innocence of Muslims" movie trailer that denigrates the prophet Muhammad.
Syrian state-run media, meanwhile, reported that the Syrian delegation to the U.N. General Assembly engaged in wide-ranging diplomacy on the sidelines of the annual gathering, meeting with U.N. officials and with colleagues from the governments with which Damascus remains on good terms, including Belarus and Sudan.Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei "expressed his country's support for the Syrian government in its efforts to overcome the current situation, adding that Belarus firmly opposes foreign interference in Syria's internal affairs," Syrian radio and television reported.
The broadcasts aired in Syria were likely intended to dispel the image of Assad's regime as internationally isolated and on the verge of collapse to the rebels.
— Carol J. Williams in Los Angeles
Photo: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem used his address at the U.N. General Assembly on Monday to accuse the United States and others of supporting terrorism with their aid to rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad. Credit: Jason DeCrow / Associated Press