'Friends of Syria' Meet, Plan to Put Screws to Assad

Opposition activist says they're turning a blind eye as rebels smuggle in weapons
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2012 11:49 AM CST
Hillary Clinton greets United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and British Foreign Minister William Hague, at the Friends of Syria Conference in Tunis, Friday.   (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)

(Newser) – With UN action looking unlikely, diplomats from dozens of countries converged on Tunisia today for a "Friends of Syria" conference to chart a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Their goal is to create a "tsunami wave" of pressure against Bashar al-Assad, stripping away his internal support, CNN reports. They also plan to deliver humanitarian aid, and to recognize the Syrian opposition. Hundreds of Assad supporters protested outside the conference, while Syrian state-run TV called the gathered nations "enemies of Syria," according to the AFP.

Foreign help may not be entirely humanitarian, either; one opposition source at the meeting tells Reuters that foreign powers are looking the other way as the Free Syrian Army smuggles weapons into the country. "It is coming from everywhere, including Western countries, and it is not difficult to get anything through the borders," he said. Hillary Clinton, who is at the meeting, said that the rebels would find weapons "from somewhere, somehow," and that she would bet against Assad remaining in power, MSNBC reports. (Read more Syria stories.)

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