Syria opposition must stop 'tearing themselves apart': Juppe

AFP, Friday 16 Mar 2012

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe urges the Syrian opposition to stop 'tearing itself apart' and opposes providing arms to rebels to avoid a civil war in the turbulent country

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and UN-Arab League Envoy on Syria Kofi Annan ahead of a meeting aside of the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, February 27, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe urged the Syrian opposition to stop "tearing itself apart" in an interview published on Friday, in which he also opposed providing Syrian rebels with arms.

"There are some opponents whose attitudes are seriously weakening the opposition -- as long as they continue to tear themselves apart and fight amongst themselves," Juppe said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde.

"We are doing everything to try to unite the opposition around the Syrian National Council and to convince them to be more inclusive, to welcome Alawites, Christians," he said. "They are not doing well enough."

He said he opposed providing arms to rebels in Syria, saying "this would precipitate Syria into a civil war that risks being dreadful."

Juppe said the global community had probably underestimated the staying power of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"We thought there would be more defections, and more quickly," he said. "We perhaps badly measured the regime's ferocity."

He urged leaders of the country's minority Alawites and Christians, many of whom have rallied around the Alawite Assad, to join with the opposition.

"We understand the fears of Christians, but their future would be better in a democratic Syria," Juppe said.

Western and Arab nations have repeatedly called for Syria's fractured opposition to unite under a single umbrella, with the SNC seen as the most viable option.

But the group has struggled to bring in divergent

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