Syria embassy in Doha goes to opposition

February 14, 2013 - 3:09:44 am

BEIRUT: Qatar has handed the Syrian Embassy building in Doha to the National Coalition, Syria’s main opposition group, a statement said yesterday.

“Qatar has decided to hand over the Syrian embassy building in Doha to Mr Nizar Al Haraki after his appointment as ambassador to Doha for the National Coalition,” the Coalition statement said.

“Qatar has acted faster than the Friends of Syria coalition,” the opposition statement said, in reference to a string of Western and Arab states, along with Turkey, which support the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

“The flag of the revolution will be raised above the building,” the Syrian National Coalition added.

Speaking to AFP by phone, Haraki said the Qatari authorities had accepted his appointment.

“A formal decision has been made to accept my appointment as ambassador,” he said.

“I will start work along with two other diplomats,” said Haraki.

“Depending on whether they support the revolution, we will decide which former embassy staff members we will keep, and who we will lay off.”

The National Coalition was formed in the Qatari capital on November 11. A day later, Qatar and other Gulf countries recognised the group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

And a week after that, the European Union followed suit and recognised the coalition.

The Coalition in November named ambassadors to Paris and London but neither France nor Britain have yet handed over embassy buildings to the opposition. 

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Muallem and opposition National Coalition chief Ahmed Moaz Al Khatib will make separate visits to Moscow for talks in the coming weeks, a top Russian diplomat said yesterday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the RIA Novosti news agency that Muallem would visit Russia by the end of February while Khatib would come in the next two or three weeks.

Final dates for both visits were still being agreed, he added.

Syrian state television reported that the Syrian foreign ministry “welcomes the invitation for Muallem to meet with his Russian counterpart”.