Prince Saud calls for urgent action at Friends of Syria Conference in Rome

March 1, 2013

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal led the Kingdom’s delegation to the International Ministerial Conference of the Friends of Syria in Rome yesterday. During the meeting, the delegates agreed to provide more political and material support for the Syrian National Coalition, an umbrella opposition organization that is widely recognized as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. In a final communique, the conferees vowed to provide greater support for the Higher Command of the Syrian Free Army and, later, to support the National Coalition in its attempts to create a democratic political system. They stressed the importance of maintaining the unity of Syria and demanded that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad put an end to its atrocities and work towards a resolution to the crisis.

During his address to the conference, Prince Saud urged the international community to act promptly to help the Syrian people defend themselves against the tyrannical regime in Damascus. Asserting that the situation has hit a new low, he warned that without decisive international intervention, circumstance may deteriorate even further. The Saudi Foreign Minister noted that, on average, 100 people are killed every day in Syria and hundreds of thousands of refugees are pouring into neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the Al-Assad government continues to use destructive weapons against the civilian population, rejecting global pleas to find a non-military solution. In this regard, he expressed regret that certain countries continue to provide weapons to the Syrian regime, while preventing the formation of an international consensus that could lead to concrete action.

Prince Saud insisted that the Syrian people have the legal right to defend themselves and rejected the argument that arms provided to opposition fighters would end up in the hands of terrorists. Not only is the number of extremists within the opposition fighters small, he said, those radical few are already receiving weapons from other sources. Therefore, it is imperative that the international community provide arms for the moderate Syrian fighters to both defend themselves and to increase their stature within the opposition. Prince Saud praised the Syrian National Coalition, characterizing it as unified, respected and committed to the equality of all of Syria’s social segments.

The Foreign Minister concluded by repeating his plea for urgent action, warning that a continuation of the current genocidal policies of Al-Assad may lead to both the destruction of Syria and the destabilization of the entire region.

Following the conclusion of the conference, Prince Saud released a press statement. “Using Scud missiles to bomb innocent citizens is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” he said. “The battle has become a global battle and the Syrian people are not standing alone.”