Assad joins Arab leaders condemning Paris attacks

Kuwaiti sheikh: attacks ‘counter to all teachings of holy faith and humanitarian values’

Saudi King Salman with Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Both condemned the weekend attacks in Paris. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images







Middle Eastern leaders condemned Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

Saudi King Salman called them “repugnant”, offering condolences to François Hollande. United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan pledged the federation would “spare no effort . . . to fight terrorism in all its forms”.

Jordan’s King Abdullah expressed “deep regret and sadness” and expressed solidarity with France. Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said such attacks would not weaken the will of peace-loving countries, while Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Sabba called the attacks “criminal acts . . . which run counter to all teachings of holy faith and humanitarian values”. Morocco’s King Mohamed VI expressed condolences and solidarity. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani called the attacks “crimes against humanity”.


Iraq’s prime minister Haidar al-Abadi, whose country has been targeted by terrorism since the 2003 US occupation, said “fighting terrorism called for international efforts to eliminate it in all countries”.

The Middle Eastern leader most concerned with this issue, Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, joined the chorus of condemnation but told visiting French lawmakers that their country’s “mistaken policies . . . had contributed to the spread of terrorism”.

Head of Sunni Islam’s supreme seat of learning, Sheikh al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb, urged the world to “unite to confront this monster”. Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars said terrorists were not sanctioned by Islam and “these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world” and called for a “concerted effort” to eliminate terrorism “from a unified moral stance”.

Although Saudi Arabia has been hit by IS bombings, its proselytising puritan Sunni ideology, elaborated by these clerics, forms the basis of belief among jihadis of all hues. More than 2,500 Saudis have joined IS and al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq.

Action plan

The Paris operation compelled 17 foreign ministers meeting in Vienna to shelve differences and agree on an action plan to end Syria’s conflict. The plan calls for parallel ceasefires and efforts to forge an accord on Syria’s future governance.

The UN is tasked with opening dialogue between the Syrian government and selected opposition groups by January 1st and, within six months, imposing truces, putting in place a transitional authority to draft a new constitution, and holding elections within 18 months.

The Vienna declaration designated as “terrorist” IS and Nusra and pledged to continue the battle against them during truces, while patrons of forces not labelled “terrorist” would ensure they abided by ceasefires. The consensus on these two points amounts to a departure for regional governments which have used IS and Nusra in the fight to topple Mr Assad, whose fate was not defined at Vienna in line with a Russian plan, rejected by the US and its allies.

Irish Times